This section contains numerous pages of "bits and pieces" of Air Force helicopter history. At the bottom of each page click the "next page" link to read following pages.
When the originator of the entry is not able to state with certainty the entry is fact....whether by CRS, hear say, second hand or other reasons, the entry will be annotated as UNCONFIRMED.
These "bits and pieces" are normally extracted from various e-mails and are considered to be an important part of Air Force helicopter history requiring documentation and preservation by USAF ROTORHEADS.
If you would like to comment or add to an existing entry or contribute a new "Bits & Pieces" entry, please advise us.
Thur 6 Feb 2009 SUBJECT: H-1 DYNAMIC SWEEP ALIGNMENT
I learned quite a lot doing this project. I also fixed quite a few H-1 beat problems that had stumped the maintenance troubleshooting crews at Hill, on the UH-1F, H-1 Helicopter Sections. I had the HH-1H section where I perfected this procedure flying Functional Check Flights. This technique works very well and solves the problem associated with the blades going out of track as the power is changed as in a climb, or heavy loads, versus the lighter (descending) or less weight loads on the helicopter main rotor system. In flight this can be measured with the in-flight tracking system invented by Chadwick Helmuth of Monrovia, California. I wrote the in-flight tracking procedure at Edwards AFB, and visited the plant in Monrovia while there doing the testing and writing of the Tech Data. Met the chief engineer, Mr. Helmuth and Mr. Chadwick visited Hill several times during my assignment there.
The H-21 and I think even the H-19 had weights that could be moved from the leading edge to the trailing edge to make a blade climb more for example. The H-1 did not have any lead lag adjustment procedure for in-flight corrections as these articulated blades had. The H-19 caps were riveted on and the adjustment for these was not a field adjustment. The H-21 had this explained in the T.O. pretty well, and this experience gave me the idea of lead lag malfunctions for the H-1. (Bill Lyster)
Sun 30 Nov 2008 SUBJECT: HH-53 AT 21O KTS
The mission I was on was a special orbit for a major air strike on the route 7 structure between Bab Ban, Laos and the Fishes mouth (Bartholemy Pass) on the border of North Vietnam. The major air strikes, which took approximately two and a half hours was pounding the area with 500 and 750 lb daisy cutters.. We were orbiting at 6500 ft just below the Fishes mouth, parallel to the NVN border in case a strike acft was hit where we could be in a position to do an immediate rescue. About 15 minutes before the air strikes were scheduled to end, I heard a "bandit" warning issued from a US Navy ship in the Gulf of Tonkin. The first call was garbled and all I was able to hear was 'bandits, squid, 180". I knew we were about 50 miles south of the squid reference point and asked the pilots if they heard the call. They must not have heard it clearly, because the A/C asked where it was at. I replied that it was 180 degrees out from squid. The copilot had his map of the area out and was checking the reference point when another bandit call came over the air stating, "bandits, squid, 180, 30" which placed the Migs 20 miles due north of our location. Based on it's position, it was only a matter of minutes before the Migs would be on us. When the Migs entered our vicinity, the acft commander pushed the nose over and did a power dive for the tree tops. I manned the No#1 gun and looked forward into the cockpit and noticed the vertical velocity was pegged at 6000 ft per minute and the airspeed was indicating 210kts. The Mig cap for the strike mission came over and kept the Mig on the NVN side of the border. We kept hearing the bandit warnings and were able to track the flight heading south on the NVN side of the border. They must have been launched out from Vinh, NVN, because we last tracked him from the remaining bandit calls that were made from the Navy ships. Talk about an adrenaline rush. (Stan Nelson)
Sat 6 Sep 2008 SUBJECT: MOROCCAN FLOODS
NOTE: This is in response to a picture sent in by Tom Howard
Picture brought back a bunch of great memories. Tell Tom he was right on. That was one of our birds. Some great flying down there. We had a cabin full of Moroccans that we picked up off of roof tops on one mission and just as we got the last guy in the cabin off the hoist and we were on the go at about 50 feet he looked around the cabin and dove out the door back into the water and swam back over to the house we picked him up from. Guess he didn't like helicopters.
We dropped C rations to the Moroccans on the ground that were cut off by the flood water. They had no idea how to use a church key and they were trying to bite the cans open or knock holes in them with rocks. We finally had to put a troop on the ground to give them a little OJT on the use of a church key.
I remember they put our LZ right in the middle of a high powered antenna farm. Was like landing in a spider web. I still have jungle rot on my toe nails compliments of the Moroccans showers and the flood water. Right after we returned to Spangdahlem they deployed us to Hamburg Germany for another big flood mission. The Germans gave us all a German medal for that one.
It was good to put names with faces again on the picture Tom sent. I still keep in touch with some of the Spangdahlem troops. (John Flournoy)
Mon 1 Sep, 2008 SUBJECT: A INTERESTING CH-3E EXPERIENCE
NOTE: This was in response to info that Sikorsky is testing a fly-by-wire helicopter
Sure glad I'm not flying choppers anymore! Hydraulics was bad enuf! We had a CH-3E at Hill that was to be flown down to Holloman for flyable storage in 72. I tried it twice before I went TDY back to Nam, and never made it more than five miles out. When I got back 60 days later, it was still at Hill, AND I was selected to do it again. Everything went okay to Kirtland for a RON. Then the next day, just after takeoff about five miles out, I saw the Utility pressure head for zero as the crewman came forward saying we got a helova leak. Put the gear down and popped the circuit breaker figuring screw it, I'm going to get to Holloman this time. About two-three minutes later, the Primary went for zero, as I got another yell from the back. Went to Aux and did a 180 and declared an emergency. With good sense, I would have put it down in the desert right there and now. But I didn't, and called the alert firemen to stay well clear as if I lost the last system there might be a rollover and junk flying all over and went for a roll-on the North-South runway. We made it and when I came down the steps after shutdown on the runway, the Fire Chief came up and said, "Thanks for the info, Major!" I had been stationed there in 65 and he had been the Assistant Chief who coordinated with us for airborne firefighters. When I shook his hand telling him thanks too, I also commented, "Glad to see you finally made Chief too!" Grinning he told me, "And you finally made Major!" Anyway knowing that it would be a while getting two H-3 hydraulic lines in and that Special Weapons had labs to make almost anything! So I talked it over with the Crew Chief and sent a msg requesting a one-time flight to Holloman with fabricated lines. The normal lines were for 1500 psi, the ones we had made were tested for 3000 psi. Ninety more miles the next day and we finally got rid of it. If that had of been fly-by-wire, I'd have planted it in the desert with the first failure. Gremlins in hydraulics is bad enuf, but what those ones and zeros in computer chips chose to do are beyond my imagination!
We took several CH-3E's down there and I was told they would be maintained in a dry storage hangar and runup periodically incase they were needed somewhere else. When I went down to Canton Island (South Pacific Missile Range) in Feb 74 to fly on a Lease/Bail contract for Global Associates, there were three CH-3E's there (14235, 12580 & ?). I believe they started that operation in 1972, as I know that George Martin was there at the start and brought Freddie Leibert in later. I replaced Freddie! And on an aside, as soon as I got there, I went out to the alert H-3, and gave it a shakedown! Man, it was clean! I was impressed! About a year later, my Flight Crew Chief Keegan handed me the Form with a big grin on his face. When I looked at the sign off block there was no red X, slash, nor dash. It was blank! When told him he had forgotten that block, he told me, "Its clean! All TCTO's cleared and no discrepancies!" I had never seen a helicopter like that and went out and shook it down good. I might have found a little corrosion up in the wheel well, but I sure as hell wasn't gonna bust his balloon. Later Keegan went down to Peru with me to fly Evergreens S-61 4040S, the one in the crash scene on the beach. A dammed good man at 24! (Joe Ballinger)
Thu 21 Aug, 2008 SUBJECT: EARLY HELICOPTER LOOPING
While I was stationed at Pope AFB in 1950 we had a pilot, Cpt. Richard P. Devine, who was being riffed and was going to make one more flight and he intended to loop the helicopter (H-5 which had converted to metal blades). He looped the bird three times. He did this where we could see it from Pope.
After he left another pilot, Capt. Pierce Myers, with one of his fellow pilots riding in the back with a movie camera was going to film the event. The aircraft used was an H-5G. I do not know whether this made the diference, but the loop that was performed scared the hell out of those of us watching.
It was not tight like Devine's loop and the image of the helicopter went out of sight beyond the hills in about a 45 degree down angle, and we were just looking for the tell tale smoke to rise, but some how Myers pulled it out and came back in and landed. Now these two gents were white as a sheet.
There was no further attempts at looping in that outfit. We got to see the filming of the loop(sic) When Myers decided he was in trouble with the loop, you could see him looking desperately for the ground. At this point the filming stopped since the guy taking the pictures figured something was wrong, and perhaps his life was passing before his eyes at this moment.
I have not heard of any one else who looped a helicopter prior to this and I did get to witness it. (DON WATERS)
Mon, July 7, 2008 SUBJECT: SEARCH FOR NUKES
A B-52 and a KC-135 collided over the southeast coast of Spain and scattered some nukes about. I was on duty so I launched with medic and crew chief. The crew from Moron AB arrived first but both crews were told to remain on the scene until a Command and Control team arrived from Madrid. Most AF people are aware that three nukes were found right away--but the fourth was missing. For the next 120 days I flew in and out of "Camp Wilson" near Palomares, Spain in support of "The Search".
Mon, July 7, 2008 SUBJECT: SPAD RESCUE
I arrived in DaNang in January of 1969. I missed Snake School on the way over so I had to go back to Clark AB immediately to fill that square. During my tour there were many exciting events but I had the only two actual FSK firefighting missions. One was successful and one was not. The first was a Spad who lost oil pressure right after takeoff. He made a 90/270 return to land downwind, when it looked like he would go off the end of the runway into the bay he pulled the gear up. Oh! did I mention that he had a full load of ordnance? He skids off into the infield and we deploy the FSK and start to hose down the underneath side where all the bad stuff is. We have some explosions and we get some shrapnel damage, one fireman gets a piece in his thigh the other gets blown off the wing as he is extricating the pilot, but the final result is that we get him inside and get him over to the 121st MedEvac before he knows what happened. The shrapnel damage was discovered after we shut down back at The Pad.
Thu, July 3, 2008 SUBJECT: UH-1F EVACUATION
Here is one I'm quite sure is true. The pilot was Ray Hoffmann who now lives in WA. Don't know the name of the co-pilot. Ray was my roommate at NKP. The mission was out of Udorn. It was the evacuation of flood victims near Vientiane, Lao. So I got the story first hand. UH-1F. Refugees in back with a Catholic priest on headset. Pilot, co-pilot in front with crew chief sitting on radio console between them. Priest reported on intercom: "I just counted how many back here, 34."
P.S. I was the one who evacuated Ray to Qui Nhon after his last (almost fatal) helicopter mission near Kontum. (TOM GARCIA)
Sun, 11 May 2008 SUBJECT: PHOTO MISSION
I was assigned to TUSLOG Det. 84, Incirlik, Turkey, August 65 through August 67. During this time I had a 90 day TDY to Ethiopia. One of the ‘fun’ events at Incirlik was when we had to fill the cross country square for training. There wasn’t anywhere we could go so we had all the crusader castles plotted and would do a round robin taking our various crewmembers along to take pictures. (NEIL McCUTCHAN)
Sun, 11 May 2008 SUBJECT: FEET WET
Pilot Capt. David Frasier and I were hovering over a deep water channel off MacDill giving those in the back basket pickup experience. While hovering we heard a sound similar to rapid gun fire. David said we were losing power. As co-pilot I issued the call that we were ditching in the bay. As this was being done David was able to get the helicopter over shallower water (6 feet vs. 12 or more feet). The helicopter settled in the water with the co-pilot’s side of the bubble resting on the bottom. It was lucky that the plexiglass broke and I was just able to ‘walk’ through it on the bottom where I popped the ‘water wings.’ Yes, another ’43 came out to get us but we waved it off as a boat from the base recreational dock was coming out. (NEIL McCUTCHAN)
Sun, 4 May 2008 SUBJECT: HELICOPTER NIGHT RESCUE
Made one of the few night pickups. An F4 could not land at Ubon as a crash on the runway shut it down. The F4 headed to Udorn. I was on a night recon out of NKP and heard his call He was running out of fuel and he and his back seater were going to punch out. I was only about 20 minutes from his location. Found the crew in some jungle in some hills. Would you believe I found them with those strobe lights we were all issued. They stood out like a Xmas Tree with those lights. Hoist failed to work after going into hover. Found the closest place I could and landed and sent engineer out to look for them. After about 45 minutes he came back with both crew members without a scratch. Flew them back to NKP at about 3 pm. No one to meet us so we all went to O Club and had a few drinks and they went to the VOQ. Never saw them again. (JOHN HOLT)
Thu, 24 Apr 2008 SUBJECT: HELICOPTER EVACUATION
This reminded me of a mission we flew in 1969 out of NKP. About 500-700 soldiers were under attack in Laos and apparently surrounded. Air America put together a mission of every available HH-3 out of NKP and Udorn and all Air America H-34's. I suspect we had around 20 aircraft, not sure. We met at NKP and were briefed by the CIA or Air America. The H-34's were the first in and they reported panic. The took off with people hanging on everywhere. When airborne they found they had the only radio man with the only radio in the group. They had to make a quick pass and force him out. I was the 1st HH-3 in. As I landed it looked orderly as the troops were lined up in formation. But the moment I came to a rest they broke formation and charged the aircraft. I advised the engineer in the back with the ramp down to start counting and when we reached the limit we were coming out of there. I looked out my side window as an officer struck one guy trying to push his way in the front door. The weapon was a butt of a pistol and it split his head open. The mechanic in the back said it was out of control so I told him we were lifting off regardless. I could barely get it into a hover and I had to take off downwind as that is the way I came in and did not take ground fire. There were a number of bodies in bags also on the aircraft. I never got an exact count but would guess we had at least 60 + crew. We dropped them off at a camp in Laos. No Americans among this group. A number of the soldiers fell off the H-34s and some were still hanging on our ramp in the HH-3 but dropped of as we came to a hover. On the way out I heard a loud bang and thump. I thought I had been hit by ground fire. When I got back to base I found a large hole about 24" round in the belly. What had happened was a stump had penetrated the bottom when I landed. After going airborne the wind stream caused it to break loose and strike the bottom of the aircraft creating the thump. That had to be one the larger Air Force helicopter operations during the war. This does not match that World Airways mission but you sure get an idea of panic on the ground. (JOHN HOLT)
NOTE ADDITIONAL COMMENT BY JOHN, "This was my first mission after having been shot down so I was a bit shaky to start with".
Fri, 11 Apr 2008 SUBJECT: MH-53 68-10357/APPLE 1
In regards to Apple 1.....I worked 357 when I was stationed at Kadena AB Okinawa, Japan from 1976 to 1978. while assigned to the 33rd ARRS . I am glad to hear she will going into a mueseum, lots of hard work keeping those birds flying. 38 years of service is just an incredible feat that not to many military aircraft can accomplish. What amazes me is that I met people thirty years after I got discharged that maintained the same aircraft as I did 30 years later.. cool.
Fri, 11 Apr 2008 SUBJECT: MH-53 68-10357/APPLE 1
I was privileged enough to be a part of the last crew for that flight. It was a great honor and I hope to visit the museum for the unveiling as well. (VINCE DEPERSIO)