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Sentinel reporter publishes helicopter-themed children’s book

Author Mike Hazlip reads from his new book, “Thank you Huey,” during a book signing event on Nov. 11, 2023. // CH Sentinel

By Sara Beth Williams–
A local Citrus Heights author and Sentinel reporter has released a helicopter-themed children’s book based on true events.

Mike Hazlip marked the launch of his new book, “Thank You, Huey,” with a book signing event at A Brighter Child in Fair Oaks on Veterans Day.

The book features Huey, a Vietnam-era Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, who is transferred to a new hanger where he is the only helicopter among a variety of famous fixed-wing airplanes. Huey feels out of place and alone and must discover his own unique gifts among so many planes he feels are better than him.

In an interview, Hazlip said during his stint as photographer at the Rowland Freedom Center at the Nut Tree airport museum in Vacaville, a real-life Vietnam-era “Huey” helicopter was delivered to the facility, and, like in his new book, a reception to the public followed the day after its delivery.

“If airplanes could talk,” Hazlip said, referring to what inspired him to write a story about the real “Huey.” In his book, Huey is overwhelmed with all of the other airplanes and finds he isn’t as “shiny” or “fast” as some of the other planes.

Several of the secondary characters are also based on real aircrafts, including “Ms. Mitchell,” based on a B-25 Mitchell bomber plane from World War II, “Ruby,” based on a Pitts Special bi-wing aerobatic aircraft, “Sparky,” based on a P-51 Mustang aircraft, and “Aussie,” based on a Hawker Sea Fury.

Hazlip said he hopes children will find when reading the story that it’s okay if they think differently than other people. Just as all the characters in “Thank You, Huey” have different strengths and weaknesses, so does every child.

“Whatever challenges you have, there’s a strength that comes with that,” Hazlip said. “There is something that everybody can do that is unique, that is different and that is valuable.” Hazlip also hopes that veterans will read the story to their grandkids.

Hazlip lives in Citrus Heights and began teaching homeschool classes in 2014 and now teaches classes in photography, graphic design, and media literacy. He has a degree in Graphic Design, has been involved in freelance photography since 1995, and joined the Citrus Heights Sentinel staff as a reporter and photojournalist in 2020.

Hazlip has more books planned for his High Flying History book children’s series, including a story featuring the Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis, the first aircraft to break the speed of sound in 1947, and another story featuring Huey.

More information about the book and purchase options can be found at

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