Nevada State Journal - Thursday, April 22, 1965

Helicopter Versatility Explained by Veteran

Rotary wing Exponent

--- By Art Long

 

" I think the potential use of the helicopter is only limited by one's imagination. It is a very versatile piece of equipment but one of the limiting factors is the cost. But, regardless it has much commercial value".

"There are more than 500 firms in the country today operating helicopters. Some of the companies have only two or three but some of the bigger ones have large fleets."

Speaking is Walter Morris, recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on helicopters.

Currently the Director of Helicopter Academics for the USAF Helicopter Pilot Training School at Stead Air Force Base, Morris was a high school principal in Edgartown, Mass., for 18 years before he volunteered his services to the Army. In 1943 he was assigned as a military representative on the R-4 helicopter program at the Sikorsky Aircraft Division factory at Bridgeport, Conn.

 

"I was interested in helicopters at the time but knew absolutely nothing about them."

Morris, the only remaining member of the original helicopter school, notes the first class was formed March 10, 1944 at Freeman Field, Seymour, Indiana. Eight officers, he recalls, from the U.S. Army Air Force went to Bridgeport to learn how to fly the R-4 and to instruct in the school.

The first students, he notes, received 25 hours of flying training and only 48 hours of academic work. Under a new program the students will receive more than 100 hours of flight instruction and 175 hours in the classroom. Since the school was founded 21 years ago at Freeman it has graduated more than 5,000 students from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and 25 allied nations.

The School, scheduled to be phased out at Stead late this year and early next year, will be relocated to Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas. Since its inception the school has been moved seven different times.

The location at Stead, since August 1958, has been the longest for any one base. "The reason for selecting Stead was the altitude, the mountains and the turbulence. Before, the pilots were trained at lower levels and if they hadn't flown above 4,000 feet they had to be retrained. But the new helicopters with the turbine engines don't loose their efficiency in the higher altitudes as the old piston types."

At 65, Morris admits he does not fly much any more ("the hair is a little grayer") but is constantly revising the academic program as new developments are made.

He also writes for various publications with interests in helicopters and is author of a chapter on helicopters in a book "Modern Airmanship" edited by Major General Neil D. Van Sickle and first published in 1957.

Morris, under Civil Service classification since 1946, soon after World War II was awarded the Legion of Merit for his contributions to aviation and the rotary wing program.

He will move with the school to Sheppard in the same capacity he fills at Stead.

 

 

Wichita Falls, Texas, January 20, 1967

Walter Morris, recently retired civilian employee at Sheppard AFB, will be honored at a testimonial dinner here Friday night.

Tribute will be paid by a group of officers from USAF Rescue and Recovery Service (ARRS) who have served in Vietnam. Representatives of Sikorsky, Kaman, Bell and Lockheed Aircraft Companies will join in honoring Morris.

Morris, who was presented a certificate of honor on Dec 31 by Maj. Gen. Edward Nigro, commander of Sheppard AFB, received a letter of commendation from Lt. Gen. Sam Maddux Jr. commander of Air Training Command.

His federal service, spanning almost 24 years, was entirely with the helicopter training program. After receiving a direct commission in the U. S. Army Air Corps in 1943, he was selected to begin work with the then infant helicopter training program. He was one of first men to go to the Sikorsky factory to receive the first training in helicopters. He was one of the original group which wrote training materials and set up academic instruction for helicopter pilots training.