HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A couple of weeks ago, we told you about some Chinook helicopters that the Army was auctioning off through the GSA website. Now we have an update to the story. We were able to track down one of those buyers.
Gary Blain has been a fan of flight since he was just a little kid, but now he's taken his love of aviation to a whole other level. Gary just bought a pair of Chinook "D" model helicopters for about $6.5 million dollars. He bought one helicopter for $3 million, the other for about $3.5 million. This isn't Gary's first purchase from the GSA website. He said, "I've actually owned a couple of hundred helicopters over the years."
Gary and his brother own Billings Flying Service, a company based out of Montana. The aircraft will come in handy for the heavy lifting his business does. Gary said the helicopters will be used for "...power line construction, setting large power poles, areas that are inaccessible by truck or other means. They'll be doing construction type work, fire type work, you know, forest fires. We've participated in disaster type situations and you know, recovery from disasters. That's the sort of thing we'll be doing with them."
While the Army replaces old models for new, Gary's company and his employees benefit from the sale too. Gary said, "Some of our aircraft are getting pretty old, and we rely on the military surplus to keep ourselves functioning, and this particular aircraft that we buy will employ about twenty people in our company."
While the price of these aircraft might give most people sticker shock, for Gary, it's just the price of doing business. He said, "It seems like a large investment, but if you look at what these aircraft actually, it's actually, the investment is a minor side. It's the operation of the aircraft that's expensive."
As for how Gary will get the aircraft back home to Montana? Well of course, the only way he knows how... "I'm going to fly them!"
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