The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation (AAHF) in Henry County allows you to explore Vietnam-era helicopters for FREE, and their affordable flying options will have you doing loop-the-loops with excitement. In fact, the AAHF (here in Georgia, as well as other chapters around the country) are the only places with the FAA exception to allow flights in military helicopters!! When you’re done, head to family-friendly Jailhouse Brewing Company for a tour, a pour and lots of fun. Here are the details!
Explore the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation Museum
AAHF is located next to of the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. It’s a volunteer organization thats offers the opportunity to connect soldiers to the public, and allow visitors to hear stories and memories from its Veterans. Take the kids to see the aircraft and talk with a number of Veterans.
Cliff Stern, Vietnam Veteran and AAHF volunteer, said it best, “I think [our mission] is pretty simple – we need to keep the Army Aviation history alive. We also want to educate the public. We get a lot of riders that come to us during air shows and I have never seen anyone come off the aircraft that wasn’t smiling or crying (with joy)….All of our aircraft except for one have been in combat so they are the real deal. In fact, we have a member who flew one of the aircraft in Vietnam and another that flew the same aircraft in Germany so it has been around for a long time. ”
Guests can schedule a tour of the museum and see these aircraft for FREE. The museum has four UH-1Hs (Hueys,) five AH-1Fs (Cobras,) and a Bird Dog fixed-wing aircraft. The Hueys and the Cobras are about 50 years old and the Bird Dog was built in 1957. AAHF owns the UH-1Hs; the Cobras are on a special loan program from the Department of Defense!
You can also come to an AAHF event, like their air shows. The also work very closely with the Commemorative Air Force at Falcon Field trying to do joint events periodically, as well as some local events (like a Cobra flyover during the upcoming NASCAR race!!) You can click here to see their full calendar.
Finally, it’s also a ton of fun to head out to the airfield and watch these birds fly. I was blown away by the adrenaline that came from simply standing nearby, feeling their power (and wind!) and seeing them soar into the air. But that’s not all!!
Take a Ride in a Huey Helicopter
While my 8yo enjoyed seeing the helicopters and talking with the Veterans, his favorite part -by far- was heading up into the sky in a Huey Helicopter!
Kids 5yo and older are welcome to fly (with an adult) -and Cooper was all smiles! The ride is about 10-12 minutes and you get to experience everything during that time that you would normally experience in a normal UH-1H ride. We experienced dips, deep turns, flyovers …it was pure exhilaration!
You’ll ride with a total of 10 people (plus a pilot and co-pilot, and at least one spotter.) There are 4 gunner positions, which face outward. Cooper and another young kiddo sat in the middle of the row of seats within the helicopter. I sat on the outer edge but the door opening (another adult on the other side,) so he was perfectly safe. Everyone is also strapped in, of course. But yes, I did say “door opening.” There are no doors on this bird, which is very exciting and makes for awesome views!
For your family experience, check out the calendar to find a weekend they are offering rides. You’ll want to give them a call and reserve your space. A Huey ride is a very reasonable at just a $70 minimum donation per person (though that minimum may vary as fuel prices go up and down) — and it’s worth every penny! Also, keep in mind, about 85% of the donations raised from flights keep the museum open, and help restore and upkeep the aircraft they have.
Rides in the Cobra are also available, but they are not cheap! Yes, these aircraft get better gas mileage, but they can only take up one person at a time. That’s why Cliff Stern said that, for him, even with 2,000+ hours of flight time in the Huey, a ride in the Cobra was a bucket list experience.
This video is from our flight!!
Relax at Jailhouse Brewing Company
After we finished our museum tour and flight, we were ON FIRE with adrenaline and excitement! We couldn’t just go home! Only about 10 minutes away from the AAHF is Jailhouse Brewing Company- so we packed up the van and headed out.
Jailhouse is so named because it’s located in what used to be a jail in Hampton, Ga. Today the jail is merely inspiration for such brews as Breakout Stout and Mugshot IPA. Speaking of which, I loved the stout – it includes not-so-subtle hints of chocolate malt that are amazing! It’s hard to pick a favorite between the Breakout Stout and the Retraining Order Porter, also with hints of coffee and chocolate…
Luckily, you don’t have to pick! $12 gets you a tour and a wristband that allows for 6 (generous) 6oz pours to enjoy on the enclosed patio. While we sampled the beer, the kiddos had fun as well. There were games of cornhole, sidewalk chalk, a mugshot photo area (that’s what the boys are doing on the photo to the left,) Twister and more! I really enjoyed sitting on the picnic tables in the warm sun and talking with the boys about their favorite parts of the helicopter experience.
After a bit the boys mentioned that they were hungry…and we were feeling it, too. Guess what!! No need to leave!! Both Tierra Mia (Mexican) and Rutabaga’s Cafe (Sandwiches) deliver to Jailhouse! What?!?!? It was awesome! We picked Tierra Mia – a burger, tacos, fries, and quesadillas – with lemonade for the boys. They delivered it right to the patio for us, and we enjoyed our meal on the picnic table – encouraged by the Jailhouse staff to linger longer and enjoy ourselves. (In fact, the boys enjoyed playing with the daughter of one of the people who worked there.)
If you’re looking for more to do in Henry County, we recommend a day at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Don’t miss free and discounted tickets for kids to the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500) or many of the other FREE ways to explore the area.
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Disclosure: Thank you to Henry County and AAHF for hosting us on this spectacular adventure. All opinions here are our own – and we honestly think it was truly epic!! You’ve got to try it!
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.
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