It must have been a great lifestyle. A private detective, living in the grounds of a millionaire’s estate, a free Ferrari 308 GTS to drive and a mate with a Hughes 500D who didn’t ever need fuel, overhauls or to bother with height limits. What’s not to like? Magnum PI was one of my favourite shows and I often wondered what happened to Roger E. Mosley and that Hughes 500D. Seems we were not alone, as a couple of years ago, Phoenix Heliparts in Arizona took an out of hours Hughes 500D as a trade for a new machine and decided that, as it was an ex-Honolulu Police aircraft, what better than to rebuild it as the Magnum PI machine?
Several years later and at Heli Expo earlier this year, the helicopter drew huge attention in their stand, with cast members Roger e Mosley (pilot) and Larry Manetti (Magnum’s pal and ex-Vietnam door gunner) on hand to sign autographs and also the machine itself. The occasion was the handing over ceremony to it’s new owner.
It’s new home is, indeed, back in Hawaii and a tourist helicopter of Paradise Helicopters. I imagine if the usual trademark issues can be overcome, they’ll be offering the Magnum PI tour around the island. While it’s probably the most famous helicopter on television, the paint scheme wasn’t unique, being one of several paint options on the Hughes price list at the time.
The replica Hughes overhauled by Phoenix is indeed impressive. While the paint job and registration is the original, everything else on the D Model Hughes has been uprated, with the latest avionics and systems to help with it’s new role carrying tourists. As many of the characters of the Magnum PI series were Vietnam aircrew, Paradise have agreed to donate a percentage of everything the helicopter generates in it’s new life to the Wounded Warrior charity.
As for the original machine from the series, various stories abound. One helicopter was destroyed in a filming accident that claimed the life of a cameraman, the other seems to have disappeared, last heard of in Kentucky working on electricity powerline contracts. It’s probably sitting in a hangar somewhere, talking about the good old days to the younger Robinsons parked alongside.
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