With the West End and Broadway blockbuster, Miss Saigon, currently thrilling audiences at Birmingham Hippodrome until Sat 23 Sept, principal cast members Sooha Kim and Ashley Gilmour took time out from their busy performance schedule for an up-close encounter with an original Vietnam UH-1 HUEY helicopter, the only working model of its kind to exist in the UK today.

Widely used to transport troops and equipment during the Vietnam War, as well as support and attack missions, the UH-I model ‘Huey’ helicopter first arrived in Vietnam in 1963 and was the most common utility helicopter used in the conflict between 1965-1973.

The Huey 509, was contracted by the US army in 1972. The aircraft saw active service in the Vietnam conflict between 1972-1973, where it flew over 500 combat missions with the 129 Helicopter Assault Company.

Winner of a record-breaking nine Whatsonstage awards including Best show, Miss Saigon tells the story of the last days of the Vietnam War, in which a 17 year-old Kim is forced to work in a Saigon bar run by a notorious character known as the Engineer. There she meets and falls in love with an American GI named Chris but they are torn apart by the fall of Saigon. For 3 years Kim goes on an epic journey of survival to find her way back to Chris, who has no idea he’s fathered a son.

Since its London premiere in 1989, Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s legendary musical Miss Saigon has become one of the most successful musicals in history.

The original Broadway production of Miss Saigon opened on April 11, 1991 with what was the largest advance sale in Broadway history ($37 million).  The show went on to play for nearly ten years and 4,063 performances seen by more than 5.9 million people.

Miss Saigon has been performed in 28 countries, over 300 cities in 15 different languages, has won over 40 awards including 2 Olivier Awards, 3 Tony Awards, and 4 Drama Desk Awards and been seen by over 35 million people worldwide.

Miss Saigon runs until Sat 23 September at Birmingham Hippodrome. For tickets, call Information and Sales on 0844 338 5000 or visit www.birminghamhippodrome.com for details.