DASH is an acronym for “Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter.” In the late 1950s the Navy was searching for a way to extend the anti-submarine capabilities of the large number of aging World War II era destroyers still serving in the fleet. These ships were considered too small for conventional manned helicopters and DASH was the answer to the problem. The DASH made its first flight on August 12, 1960 and was the world’s first unmanned helicopter. The QH-50C is designed to carry two homing torpedoes. The Navy first deployed the drones in late 1962 and they remained in service until 1970. Several QH-50s remain in use at the White Sands Missile Range as target tugs for missile testing.
All that is known of this aircraft’s history is that it was built by Gyrodyne at St. James, New York on January 24, 1963. What ships, if any it was assigned to are unknown. It is believed that this is the oldest DASH in existence. The drone was loaned to the Pima Air & Space Museum in January 1982 by the National Naval Aviation Museum.
U.S. Navy, ca. 1963
Pima Air & Space Museum