There I was, in the fog, inverted, at night........... [Archive] - Glock Talk


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M2 Carbine
12-21-2003, 20:58
Reading some of the posts about the close calls we have had got me to thinking about my past years flying and the many mistakes I've made and the close calls I've seen and had myself.

One thing I missed in much of my later flying years is the way we instructors, at the Army helicopter school at Fort Wolters, Texas,
shared our screw ups and close calls
It was very common for an instructor to come in from a flight, sometimes still white faced, saying, "Holy S*** did I screw up".
Of course some of the screw ups were in full view of the other instructors and students.;f
The ego was put aside and the tales were told with the hope that it might keep someone else from making the same mistake.

This was a heck of a learning experience for a buck instructor with just a little over a thousand hours.

Like the saying goes, Learn by other's mistakes, you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.:)

With your permission I'll post what ever comes to mind.

Don't bother telling me what Regs may have been broken or how stupid some people's (mine mostly) actions were;Q

The following I posted on another thread a little while ago.

In the 60's I was an instructor at Ft. Wolters, TX, the Army primary helicopter school. I went through school in 64 and was back instructing Army students from 66 to 71.
We were very hard up for training aircraft so the Army bought Hughes TH-55's. (a killer POS)

The civilian Flight Commander of the first "test" class wrote the Th-55 is not only totally unsuitable as a trainer but it shouldn't be in the air at all.

The Base Commander tore up the FC's report and tried to get him fired.
When the Base Commander retired, he went to work for Hughes as a vice president. $$$$$$$
(later I saw in the news paper he was brought back on active duty and court marshaled, a 3 star General's son was killed in the TH-55)

One of the killer tricks the TH-55 had is what we called "Tucking". If the student and instructor weren't right on it when the instructor gave the student a practice engine failure/autorotation, the Hughes would slide right, turn left, roll left and nose over (down) in a split second.
The helicopter would be anywhere from nose straight down to "tucked" over on it's back.
Since we flew 500 feet above the ground there usually wasn't enough time to recover and a number of students and instructors died from "Tucking".

One day I was talking to another instructor about tucking and he told me about another instructor who recovered before hitting the trees by using fixed wing spin recovery technique (I was a FW instructor). He actually did clip the trees a little.

A few days later I chopped the throttle on my best student. He was a split second slow entering the autorotation and I was a split second slow getting to the controls. (it's the good students that kill you)

The Hughes snapped over and we were looking up at the ground through the rotor blades. The helicopter wasn't completely over on it's back. Maybe about 25 or 30 degrees past vertical.
No doubt at all we would be dead in seconds.

It would take too long to explain all the control movements I did in the next few seconds.
First I tried a "normal" helicopter recovery but the nose stayed over. Then I remembered the FW spin recovery and the nose started coming up.
Now it looked like we were still going to hit the ground before I could pull out of the dive.

I don't know if we missed the ground by 3 feet or 8 feet but now we were screaming at big power lines. I kept pulling the nose up and we cleared the lines by a few feet. I could see the individual wires in the cable.

I kept climbing and in a minute I began shaking so badly I had to give the controls to the student.

I don't know how many were in the "Tucking" survivors club but not many.

The Hughes had other tricks like venting exhaust gas into the cabin.
Another long story.

M2 Carbine
12-21-2003, 21:55
The trainers we had at Ft Wolters were Hiller OH-23s, Bell H-13s and Hughes Th-55s.
We were always short of aircraft.

During the summer we flew with the doors off.

Every winter we had our Hughes "Christmas fatalities".
Dual and solo Th-55s would crash for no apparent reason, but it was after we were putting the doors on.

I said it was carbon monoxide, but the Army said they were testing the dead pilots for carbon monoxide.
I said I think that's BS.

I was noonlighting instructing for a Flight Commander (the one who's report on the TH-55 was torn up).
I had a FW student who was a Sergeant in charge of the general maintenance at the hospital.

I was to pick him up at his office and as I came in he walked by me and handed me a manila envelope and kept walking out.
I thought WTF and looked at the envelope. It was an autopsy of the instructor in the latest "Christmas fatility" accident.
Bad reading.

When the Sergeant came back he asked me if I saw anything unusual. I said, Ya, the SOB's are not doing a carbon monoxide test.

On the way home I got the CM tester out of my Stinson and clipped to to my flight suit the next day.
Then I bought testers for my students.

Long story but shortly the Army forbid anyone to have a CM tester in the Hughes, because they were working.:(

M2 Carbine
12-22-2003, 07:02
The Hiller OH-23 has a three place bench seat. Student flies from the center with the instructor on the left.
It's a little blind to the right.

We were heading West, into the Sun.
The student was flying.

A Hiller, heading South, flies right in front of us.

I grabbed the controls to climb but we were already passing over the other Hiller.
We missed by several feet.
Close enough that I could see the student pilot was a Lieutenant and I could have read his name tag if I had time.

The Lieutenant was heading to the main heliport and I followed him in.

I told my student to shut our ship down and I walked over to where the Lieutenant was parked and shutting down.
The Lieutenant had that, Oh s*** what have I done now, look when he saw me waiting for him.:)
As he was getting out he asked me, "Sir, did I do something wrong?".

I said, "No, I did something wrong, I'm the instructor, and I almost killed you and my student".

I told him what happened and he said he never seen us.
I told him I knew he didn't but I wanted him to know what happened so he could learn from it.

I said there were three sets of eyes in those aircraft, but no matter who is at fault in a mid-air, everyone dies.

12-22-2003, 13:40

And Yeah, I know about those "Holier than Thou's" who start carping about regulations and common sense.

But those who do, usually haven't much real "stick" time, or they'd have a few "AW-SHXX's" to reflect on, too.

Only folks who don't screw up, are those who aren't trying hard enough in the first place.

Count me as a "fellow over-achiever"!!

The very best DE/FE I ever flew with had an interesting story to tell about the scars he had on his forehead. When asked if he got that in Vietnam, he said no, got through that w/o a scratch. Got this in a Piper Warrior !!!!!!! And told me a very educational story about a closed airport and a 4' ditch to lay a cable/pipeline. He was, is?, an FAA examiner who I got my CFI from. (Not all are the "boogey men" you've probably heard of, some are right-regular guy's!!)

Even when I land at an International Airport with a "Clearance", I look real close for ditches !!!!!!

12-22-2003, 14:01
Well, I'm not a licensed pilot but I like to go up with my friend Jim. We rent 152s and 172s.

After about 40 minutes in the air, we were over Lantana Airport, heading East downwind and I took this picture:

I showed him the resulting pic on the digital camera, and when we looked up, there was a 172 at 10 o'clock, about fifty feet away and about fifty feet high.

Jim pushed the nose down, but the 172 was over us before we could even start to dive. We were looking over our right shoulders but with the high wing craft we were in we couldn't see him. We don't know if he banked right or kept going straight, but we're pretty sure the guy never saw us go under his plane.

Scary reminder to keep scanning the sky.

M2 Carbine
12-22-2003, 15:10
Aircraft do have serious blind spots.

I was offshore inbound to Galveston in a long glide.

About 40 miles out and about 1300 feet I heard some radio chatter around Galveston and I heard,
"PHI 206L about 40 out passing over a ship, this is Air Log xxx".

I said, "Is that you Roy?" (he had worked for PHI)

Roy, "Change freq."

Me, "Hey, Roy where you at, what you doing buddy?"

Roy, "Buck, is that you flying 75J? Did you see me? I'm your 8 o'clock".

Me, "It's 751, my regular L model. I got you now. What's up?"

Roy, "Buck I let down right on top of you. I almost put my skids into your main rotor blades.

Me, "No s***!! No, I never seen you. How close was it?"

Roy, "I didn't see you until I saw your blades out of both side windows."
(the pilot's seat in a chopper is on the right and Roy saw my blades out the left window)

The best we could guess is Roy's skids were less than 10 foot above my blades.

We talked about it later and it seems Roy was also in a long glide and let down on me.

Years later a PHI A Star and a Air Log 206 had a mid air, offshore from Galveston, killing the pilots.

M2 Carbine
12-22-2003, 20:04
Not all accidents are too serious, especially when no one gets hurt.

Back at Fort Wolters again.

We did much of the training at "Stage Fields".
They had six parallel "runways", called lanes, about 2000 feet long and about 200 feet apart.
Three lanes in East traffic, three in West. Which made interesting base legs. (yes there were some bad mid-airs on base)

Under many downwind legs were small "sod touchdown areas".
A practice engine out autorotation to dirt was called a "sod" touchdown.
It's harder to do a sod touchdown because the skids tend to grab the ground and flip you over. On a hard surface you just skid.

In 64 when I was a student we were required to solo in and practice solo hard surface touchdown autorotations.

We had to be good at sods, it was on the check rides and it was failing if the student didn't do a good forced landing into the marked sod area.

In the late 60's the Army kept lowering the requirements in order to get more pilots through flight school.

The sod requirement was done away with completely for the student.
The instructors were to demonstrate 3 sods and NO more and sign off the demonstrations in the students records.
The student was not to touch the controls during the demonstrations.

Well, what most of us civilian instructors did was not sign off the sods until the last day or two of training.
Most of us kept teaching the students sod autorotations knowing we would be fired if caught.
If something happened the instructor had to swear he was doing a demo and screwed up.

I had given my student an engine failure to the sod under the downwind leg.
He did good and as we came to a stop in the sod area another instructor, Tommy, called for an autorotation to the same area.
I picked up and moved off to the side.

Tommy's student flared too low and too late and pulled pitch too high and Tommy was too late correcting so all they could do was ride it out.
They went across the ground, nose high, skidding on the heals of the skids with the tail rotor chewing up the ground and flying apart.

When they came to a stop in a cloud of dust someone came on the radio and said, "Hey Tommy, why don't you let the student try one now".

Later, some said that was me, but the only thing I could say was, "Holy s***!!;P

Tommy stuck with the lie and I said when he came skidding by me Tommy was the only one on the controls.;f

Texas T
12-22-2003, 23:18
Geez... I've got nothing to compare to all that. :)

I was practicing short field landings one day and really trying to shorten my total landing distance. I cut the power a little too much, wasn't carrying as much airspeed as I should have, and I planted the mains hard on the tarmac probably within a foot of the end of the runway. I'm surprised that I didn't snap the legs off that little Tomahawk. It was probably the closest I'll ever come to knowing what a carrier landing feels like.

But the worst thing was that a commuter flight was holding short for my landing and I'm sure those two guys were just laughing their @$$es off at my little escapade. ;P ;f

But I sure got that puppy stopped waaaaaaaaay short of the 500 foot mark. :)


M2 Carbine
12-22-2003, 23:40
Originally posted by Texas T
Geez... I've got nothing to compare to all that. :)

I was practicing short field landings one day and really trying to shorten my total landing distance. I cut the power a little too much, wasn't carrying as much airspeed as I should have, and I planted the mains hard on the tarmac probably within a foot of the end of the runway. I'm surprised that I didn't snap the legs off that little Tomahawk. It was probably the closest I'll ever come to knowing what a carrier landing feels like.

But the worst thing was that a commuter flight was holding short for my landing and I'm sure those two guys were just laughing their @$$es off at my little escapade. ;P ;f

But I sure got that puppy stopped waaaaaaaaay short of the 500 foot mark. :)


Ya, like they never did the same thing ;f

12-23-2003, 07:28

Two incidents.

1) Korea. Red Route. I could find it on a map again in a heartbeat but I have no idea what the road is really called. We were coming back from the field, I had a brand new lieutenant with me and we were gonna make it home. Snow came in, unforcast, and the ceiling got lower and lower. I Follow Roads was the only way to get back. We flew in utter silence the last 1/2 hour of the flight. We ended up about 50' AGL and I saw the airfield fence the first time through my chin bubble. It was something that I'd never care to repeat as we came down the only route that did NOT have wires about 100' taller than we were flying. When I landed, all the IPs, SPs and safety officers for all the troops were standing by the door at OPS and I got a standing ovation for "stupidity over and beyond" and a suggestion that a brand new lieutenant may not be the best person to almost go inadvertant IMC with.

2) Ft Bragg. We were on the extreme left side of R-5311 (Nijmegen?) and we were supposed to get home that day. There was "light to moderate icing" at 1,000' and intentional flight into known icing conditions is a no-go. Well, we took off and requested lower flight and got it. We had only gotten about 2-3 miles from the drop zone when the windshield went white with ice and no one could see a thing. Have you ever tried to fly with one foot proping the door open and trying to guide yourself by looking down through the open door? It SUCKS! In a flight of six it gets even more -er- fun. The controls started getting sluggish on me and when we landed and shut down, I looked and saw the entire mast had a cylinder of ice so thick the push-pull tubes were wearing ruts in it. HOLY COW!

Okay, that's two of any number of things that were nature induced. Like they say, takeoffs are optional, landings mandatory.


12-23-2003, 07:29
Hey, didn't you have a sling load that night you were inverted in the fog? Also it was VNE, backwards, with a student, right?



M2 Carbine
12-23-2003, 07:40
As I said earlier, I was "moonlighting" instructing for a Southern Airways Flight Commander.

He leased a Citibira.

One of the other moonlighting instructors gave me a checkout.
I had time in an Aeronca Champ so it was mostly just seeing what the Citibra's big engine would do.

Fixing to hit the throttle for my first TO the instructor says, "Pull the stick back and watch it climb".
I said, "I'll pull the stick back and watch it climb when we get to a thousand feet".
He said, "It's OK, this thing will really climb"
I said, "I bet it will, and I'll find out at 1000 feet".
(what a wimp;Q )

A few weeks later the same instructor must have been, "pulling the stick back and watching it climb" on TO.

No one saw it but it looks like he probably stalled about 150 feet and hit the ground in about a 20 degree nose low attitude with the engine wide open.

Blood everywhere.

This is a picture of my wife looking at what's left.
(She was around a lot of this kind of thing. it's amazing she put up with my flying.
A fine woman. :hearts:

M2 Carbine
12-23-2003, 07:45
Originally posted by HerrGlock
Hey, didn't you have a sling load that night you were inverted in the fog? Also it was VNE, backwards, with a student, right?



;f You know it Dan ;f

But many of these fellows wouldn't believe the whole story, them not knowing what "normal" Army flying is.;)

M2 Carbine
12-28-2003, 11:16
In 1972 I was flying 100 miles out of Galveston to a drilling rig called the Blue Water Four.
I was flying a Bell 206B.
In those days the navigation was dead reckoning with a magnetic compass.
It was a trick to fly 100 miles over open water and find a single rig, even if it was the size of a 20 story building.

I was making a Galley crew change. Three men.
The vis was a little low, overcast and a good SE wind.
Watching the Whitecaps on the water I could see the further I got from shore the stronger the wind, so I kept adding wind correction.

I passed the ETA and with the guessing for the wind and low vis I didn't figure I had a chance in hell of finding the rig, but I'de fly a few more minutes until I had to turn back due to fuel.

About the time I started to turn back I saw the rig a couple miles away.

Very bumpy approach from the wind swirling around the rig.
I landed and the three guys got out, having a hard time keeping from being blown off the heliport.
One man got in back.
I asked him if he was the only one going in. He said, "No, two more".

I said they had better get their asses up here, my A/S shows a bad gusty 60 knot wind and I'm having trouble keeping this thing on the deck.

He said, "We weren't ready. We thought you turned around because our wind indicator is showing over 70 knots."

The other two passengers finally loaded up and I went back to Galveston and called it a day.:)

M2 Carbine
02-27-2004, 21:49
Since I retired there has been three pilots killed at work.
I've talked about all three.
When I posted the last time about the last pilot all we knew was he gave a May Day call soon after take off.
The chopper hit the water very hard and broke up and sank.
The pilot was found floating. He was solo.

The chopper was a Bell 407, like this one I flew out of Rockport, TX.

The 407 has a computer setup that operates many systems. Too many for my liking. There could be and was a lot of failures that you wouldn't have in a "mechanical" system.
The computer and aircraft was a joy to fly when everything was working but some of the failures brought to mind, "I ain't making enough money for this sh**"

The computer also acted somewhat like a Black Box.
The recovered information told much of what happened in this crash.
This is the some of what I heard.

First an engine power turbine wheel failed. (the main turbine in a "jet")
The pilot went into autorotation and called May Day.
The engine kept running at about 70%. (just above an idle)
A lot of warning lights might have been on but maybe not the RIGHT ones. It was probably very confusing.
The pilot probably seeing this engine RPM and thinking his problem wasn't the engine, pulled out of the autorotation.
It seems the engine was running but couldn't produce any power so the main rotor RPM bled off fast.
Why the pilot didn't or couldn't re-enter autorotation, no one knows.
The last recorded main rotor RPM was 20%.
The helicopter was falling out of the sky.

Three very experienced pilots.
I would guess the lowest time pilot had over 12,000 hours and they all had been flying since the 60's.

02-27-2004, 21:57
Three very experienced pilots. I would guess the lowest time pilot had over 12,000 hours and they all had been flying since the 60's.

"Humbling" ain't even the word for it...

They did, however sure live before they died. Lots sure don't. Best I can do for a "bright side".

M2 Carbine
02-27-2004, 22:14
Yes Bill.

I wrote the story on GT somewhere, about my first instructor being killed at an air show in his Ryan Pt-22 .
He was a neat guy. A real old time airport bum.

I told a friend that had the same instructor, "That's the only way for a pilot to die".

M2 Carbine
03-08-2004, 14:08
Your temper can kill you.

I offer no excuse for my stupidly in this incident.

At Sabine Pass, Texas I agreed to work over three days, flying for an offshore pipe line inspector.
This guy was a known horse's ass and he had been trying to give me a hard time for two days.
The third day the weather was bad but not quite too bad to stop the dawn takeoffs.
I was delayed about an hour and as I was heading out in good weather, everyone just East of me was heading for the beach in bad weather.

The inspector was on a pipeline barge in the bad weather. I thought I'de be a good guy and duck into the bad weather and pick him up and take him to his home barge, then head back to Sabine Pass.

When I got to the barge the weather was about 200 overcast, less than 1.5 miles vis and rain.
Right away the inspector started giving me crap about being late.

I said where you want to go.
Instead of him saying back to his home barge, he wants to go to a barge to the East.
This was just his way of giving me a little dig, since I'de have to tell him we can't head East because the weather was much worse. (he knew the weather was worse to the East)

Screw him, I headed East.

When I filed a flight plan with our radio operator, who was on a platform to the East he said, "Man, you can't get here, We have maybe 100 foot ceilings, less than a mile in heavy rain and thunderstorms."

(the passengers didn't have head sets at that time)
I said, "I don't intend getting there. I've got a hard head on board that wants me to fly in this weather and I'm going to give him a good taste of it".

We had flown about 15 minutes and the inspector was getting pretty jumpy but he wasn't going to suggest we turn around.
I was going to go another minute or two, then turn West, I couldn't see much out front.

Through the chin bubble I saw a big waterspout on the water.
(offshore tornado)

I said the pilot's prayer, "Oh sh**".
Rolled into about an 80 degree bank and pulled the stick back.
Out the right window I was looking right up the funnel of the water spout.

I said to myself, You dumb SOB you've done it now.

The passenger grabbed the instrument panel edge with both hands.

We turned maybe 30 degrees and we must have hit the edge of the waterspout.

The helicopter "fell" horizontally. Everything lose hit the ceiling and me and the passenger were hanging in the seat belts but I managed to keep my feet on the pedals.

I would have started laughing if I wasn't so scared. The inspector was still holding onto the panel and his legs were up in the air by his hands.

This went on for ten minutes.
OK, for a few seconds, but it seemed like ten minutes.

I got leveled out heading West.

In what I thought was a pretty calm voice I said, "Well I don't think we had better head any further East. Where else would you like to go?"

He asked if I could get him to his home barge.

No problem.

I flew that guy a few times after that. He was a changed man.:)

03-08-2004, 20:37
Now THAT is a good story.

03-10-2004, 05:35
I've only lost my temper once in the cockpit. I flew as a unit IP and most of my kids were great, hard charging go-getters. That's what you're looking for in an Army helo pilot anyway. Would you want a shrinking violet to be dependant upon to get the information that can keep you alive?

Anyway, Bosnia, 1998, just getting to spring.

We were flying in the Northern area and the guy I had that day was a bit of a hard head but had little military sense flying. Flying over the point of a hill will get you killed (shot down) flying through a saddle with known enemy will get you killed, etc. Every decision this one made was exactly the wrong thing to do. He was a private pilot before he got in so he had decent flying sense, just no military sense at all. He finally got to me. I landed and took his controls out, got back in and went back to base. When we reviewed the flight, it seems we landed somewhere in the IEBL, possibly one of the most land-mined area in the world.

Yeah, temper can get you killed but sometimes you get lucky.


03-10-2004, 05:39
Originally posted by M2 Carbine
The 407 has a computer setup that operates many systems. Too many for my liking. There could be and was a lot of failures that you wouldn't have in a "mechanical" system.
The computer and aircraft was a joy to fly when everything was working but some of the failures brought to mind, "I ain't making enough money for this sh**"

Now throw on HellFire controllers, Stinger controllers, 2.75" rocket controllers, .50 Cal M2 controllers, a Mast Mounted Sight (MMS) with thermal, optical, low-light video feeds and a laser designater, clutter up the back seats with electronics and you know what the OH-58D is like to fly ;G

Let's see, do I want to carry 500 rounds of .50, two hellfires OR a full bag of gas? ..... decisions, decisions.

I always felt like I was back in an A model with "Four people, warm day. I can only take on 3/4 bag of gas..." :D

Damn, I miss it.


M2 Carbine
03-13-2004, 13:27
Missing your ETA isn't always a bad thing. :)

I was flying a Bell 206L3 for two customers at the same time and trying to keep everyone happy running them a few hundred miles around the Gulf and trying to get them where they wanted to go.
(they save money and the pilot runs his ass off)

Due to one guy running late, I was late picking up a couple hands that I had left on a platform that morning.

When we landed on their home platform there was a little excitement.

A separator had blown up right before we got there.
It's a round steel tank about 15 foot high and 5 foot across.
The tank separated at the bottom and went up like a rocket, taking out everything above it including part of the safety fence that's around the heliport.

Other junk attached to the separator also flew off with great force.

The heliport is 1/4 inch steel. (it makes good bullet traps;))
This picture is the heliport where some big fast mover went through it.

After seeing all this the irritated passenger asked me what would have happened if we had been landing when the separator blew.
I said if anything hit us it would have gone clear through the helicopter. If no junk hit us the blast would have torn up the helicopter.

The guy thought a minute and said, "I'm sure glad you were late picking us up".

03-18-2004, 16:55
I've really enjoyed this thread. I was in one of the last few classes there. Was a green hat in Nov 72. I loved the place. Not only did we get to learn to fly, but only had to work half days if we did our programmed texts & maintained a 90% average on the tests. Had a great IP named Dave Edgar. Learning to hover that TH-55 was a ***** for someone with no previous flying experience. I guess I was typical. Got the pedals first & was able to keep the nose pointed, got the collective next along with the pedals, no problem. Then got all three controls, sat there hovering in one spot for about 20 seconds. Then Dave waved at the guys in the tower. Everything started getting out of wack at once & I didn't find the hover button for about another 8 or 9 blood sweating hours. Still remember my first 180 auto. I swear I rolled out on the lane & flared & touched down without ever pulling initial. Talk about a long skid! My P1 checkride was a nightmare! Drew a DAC named Shelton if I remember right. I went out & did the standard preflight but it was one of those lousy weather days, so we went back in for some more oral torture. When the weather lifted we went out to the AC & I did an abbreviated preflight. I get in & he tells me to get out & rephase the blades - sure enough the wind had moved them. Strike one! The damn thing wouldn't start, just popped & quit. Strike two! I could see him over there steaming, so I did a no no & cracked the throttle open a little out of the cushion & it finally started. We started to hover out & the darn helo was hanging left side low (I weighed about 160 & he probably was near 300). Took off south out of the heliport & he had me land in a confined area just to the SE. On takeoff the thing ran out of power & I had to milk the collective to get it over the trees & maintaing RPM. On the way to the stagefield he yells at me about transiting over a restricted area. STRIKE THREE?? I was OK on that one, told him that it wasn't restricted any longer - had recently changed. The rest of the ride went very well except that I had to really stretch a straight in to get to the middle third of the lane. All in all, I figured that I had barely passed (my IP put me up with a estimated 70). Got a 92! Then he pink slipped the next student, a buddy of mine with a lot of civilian FW time. Couldn't get the engine started! Great memories. Tim

M2 Carbine
03-19-2004, 19:59
Tim, we didn't know how much fun we were having, did we?
I knew Shelton. He was there a long time.

When I was instructing I liked it when Shelton gave my students check rides. The grade your student got was what he earned.
Some of the new young Army check pilots didn't really know how to grade correctly.
You showed Shelton a good ride to get a 92, he didn't give away points.

There was a cross wind on my first solo 180 auto in the Hillers.
I was still in the turn while I was flairing but made the lane and a decent touchdown.
The Flight Commander, in the tower, told me I just missed a golden opportunity for a go-a-round.;f

The older W3 that gave me my Advanced check ride rode my ass through the whole ride.
The first thing he said to me was, "I see you are a double A student. That's good because I only give double A grades or Pink Slips."

He chopped the throttle too far away on my sod forced landing.
I wound up flairing low and pulling pitch low to make the area and had a little ground run.
He acted like it was a really bad auto and landing.

Then during the debriefing he asked me what I thought about the sod forced landing. I explained why I did what I did and said I've done better but I thought it was passing.
He said, "I think it was perfect".;P

I realised later that I had passed the check ride the minute the Check Pilot started giving me a hard time. No way he could bust a student after giving him such a hard time.

He gave me a 92.:)

M2 Carbine
03-19-2004, 19:59
In 1965 at Fort Rucker we flew the Sikorsky H-19 first, then later the Huey.

My first Huey instructor, a Captain was really bad, not only a piss poor instructor but not a very good pilot.

The Flight Commander, a Major, gave me another Major for an instructor.
(long story, but as it turned out the Flight Commander was also an ex Marine, like me)

The Flight Commander explained that my new instructor didn't have much flight time and he wanted to instruct to get Huey time.
Then the F.C. told me to take care of the Major and if we get in trouble, don't give the aircraft to the Major. ;P
I thought you got to be Sh***** me, I'm the damned student, not the Major.

True enough the Major couldn't fly very well. Not bad, but not good enough to be an instructor.
At least he wasn't always grabbing the controls.
He did give me a lot of breaks between maneuvers so he could fly.

One day he chopped the throttle on me too close to a little open area in the woods.
There was no way to do a normal, maintain airspeed type forced landing so I did a modified "backup autorotation".
Pulled the nose up and let it fall off on the right side. Then spend the rest of the altitude trying to get airspeed back.
I think it scared the crap out of the Major but he didn't touch the controls.
The auto worked out good and I made the area.

I was at a hover and the Major must have sat there several minutes without saying anything.
Finally he said, "What in the hell do you call that".
I explained my instructor at Fort Wolters taught me how to do backup autorotations and explained why I just did what I did.
He said, "Damned that was good, but don't do it on a check ride." ;f

03-20-2004, 16:39
Hi again. I had a few interesting rides at Rucker too. I had just finished Instruments & started Huey contact. I had a Captain for an instructor. It was a weather day - 500' broken ceiling that was supposed to improve. I was the first student for the day so we crankded up & he tells me to do an ITO & climb throuth the deck. I figure he's the boss so I go ahead & do it - once on top he tells me "I'm sure glad you didn't have any touble with that, I'm not instrument rated". Needless to say I was a little pissed. Later, we were doing straight-ins at Hooper stage field. After touchdown he kept pushing my stick buddy to get the throttle back open & clear the lane. Finally my stick buddy, named Rainey if I remember right, cranks the throttle wide open really fast & I get to hear my first compressor stall. Later during tactics, I got a brand new WO1 IP, was his first student. The first day we went to Tac Runkle & he tells me to do a staight in auto in the H model. I did it just like the Contact IP Captian had taught me, seemed just about perfect to me. He start yelling at me "What the hell was that?" Seems I did a zero ground run auto & the school now wants at least 2 aircraft length skids at the end, considers zero ground run dangerous! Years later I drew a German Air Force IP durning the refresher course for a contact check ride. First manuever was to be a straight in auto, he asks if I want him to demonstrate & I said no, so he takes the controls & does it anyway. He cut the throttle when we were still WAY to far out for a normal school book auto - he finally figures that out & instead of power recovery he noses it over to 100kts & flares real low, just makes the lane. Later it's time for stuck pedals & the wind favors right pedal so that's what I get. I get lined up & he puts the nose about 30 degrees to the right. I couldn't slow below about 50 without starting to rotate so I just get it down to about a foot & cut the throttle to idle. It worked out great! Last story, during the AH-1S AQC I had some problems because I'm 5'3" (waiver required) Had a choice, see all the headsup display or have full pedal travel. Needless to say I had trouble finding the airport when doing autos. During the contact ride everything went great till the last manuever - high speed low level auto. I entered the first time & everything seemed good but I had this warning feeling going SOMETHING'S WRONG & it kept getting stronger, so I joined up the needles & did a go round. Next time same thing, the lane is made but the SOMETHING'S WRONG feeling just keeps getting stronger. Finally, I can see the lane is made, so I just go ahead with it. Did the best auto I ever did in a Cobra, touched down with no ground run, with the stripe between the skids, nice & level. Then I realized what was wrong, I COULD SEE MY TOUCHDOWN POINT ALL THE WAY DOWN. Instead of doing a level decel until I reached the right airspeed, I just flew to the touchdown point on an angle. The IP said you pass, the first 2 thirds of the manuever were unsat but the last third was excellent. Tim

03-21-2004, 18:22
M2 Carbine,

I goofed & put this on the wrong site, so here it is again:

M2 Carbine,

I'm not a pilot and, if I have choice between driving and flying, I'll drive every time, but there were times that I had to go up in our FW's or Rangers, usually to get surveillance photos.

I enjoy your posts. Please keep them coming,


M2 Carbine
03-21-2004, 18:38
Thanks John,

surveillance photos??

Can you say what you do?

03-21-2004, 18:54
M2 Carbine,

I'm a retired LEO. Our "narcs" thought I had a knack for getting photos, so I was "volunteered" to get aerials of places, houses, etc. that they were interested in.

Our EMT pilots wanted photos of landing sites in strange areas so I'd tag along & get the shots for them. They used them for training.
On one flight, the RR door(next to me) of the Jet Ranger popped open. The LEO sitting in the LR said I went straight up, moved sideways, and landed in his lap....all w/o undoing the seat belt. He stretched it just a bit...the seat belt didn't stretch that far. That night, when getting undressed, I saw a bruise that matched the outline of the belt. The next day, I had a black & blue mark from hip to hip. Helicopter doors can't open in flight.......Sure, they can.

Now tell us another war story,


M2 Carbine
03-21-2004, 20:09
"Helicopter doors can't open in flight.......Sure, they can."

The Bell 206 rear door is famous for opening in flight.
I made the statement once that almost every passenger in the Gulf has had the door open on him.

What would scare me is when I was solo and the left rear door came open in flight. It would only open about 5 inches.
The bad thing was we carried May West life jackets for every passenger, just thrown on the back seat.
These jackets and other stuff have been sucked out and gone through the tail rotor.
If you are lucky you just get to make a no tailrotor autorotation to the water.
If you aren't lucky, the smashed tailrotor, gear box, etc goes up through the main rotor. I never met anyone that survived that.

One day I off loaded at the customer heliport at Galveston.
I took off in a left climbing turn and maybe 200 feet got an open baggage door light.
No problem, the last guy that unloaded his baggage probably hadn't secured the door properly. Not the first time.
Then the customer's work boat called me and said, Hey Buck something just fell from your helicopter.
I said what did it look like.
He said, A 5 gallon water jug.
I said, Did it hit anything?
He said, No, it hit in the open but it made a hell of a splash.;f

I could just see the report. Person killed by water jug dropped from helicopter.

M2 Carbine
03-21-2004, 20:49
Sometimes breaking rules feels good.

I was flying to several platforms about a hundred miles down the coast from Galveston.
I had weather minimums of 500ft ceiling and 3 miles vis but it looked like it would continue to get worse. No problem I was fixing to head back to Galveston.

A Brand X helicopter pilot called our radio operator (named Brazos) and said he was heading out in the Brazos area and asked what the weather was and the forcast. (sounded like a new guy to me)

The radio operator explained the company rules would not allowed him to give that information to anyone except his company helicopters. (law suit lawyer crap)
I could tell the radio operator was upset about this.

Brazos had my flight plan for Galveston.
I called him,
Paul, in a few minutes I may get a change of plans and have to come out your way. Can you give me your weather and everything you have for the rest of the day? Also, just in case I don't ask, could you just transmitt in the blind anything interesting that happens the rest of the afternoon?

Paul gave a hell of a weather briefing.
Paul and the pilot both thanked me.:)

M2 Carbine
03-22-2004, 19:37
We never found Rick.

Rick was working over (on his days off) flying an Aerospatiale A Star.
He was inbound, solo, trying to get to Bay City (about 60 miles SW of Houston).
The weather, fog, prevented him from reaching shore.
He tried for Galveston with the same luck.
The last that was heard from him he was trying for Sabine Pass.
It was getting late and he was low on fuel.

One thing I'm sure of, he didn't crash into the water. He was too good a pilot.
I think he landed in the water before he ran out of fuel.
The area where we think he went down is known for bad radio coverage, so no way he could reach anyone floating on the water.

That night there were bad storms.

We searched for days.
I found stuff as small as a foam coffee cup but nothing from a helicopter.

A baggage door turned up. I don't know if it was floating or washed up on the beach. It had no numbers to tell if it was from Rick's aircraft.

Finally a piece of front skid and float was found. This did come from Rick's ship.
It had a large scrape mark on it.

Others and myself believe Rick popped his floats and landed in the water.
Sometime that night he was hit by a ship and sank.

Some time later a dive boat was inbound at night.
The head diver called and said he had spotted a helicopter with their equipment (I don't know what kind of equipment). He said it was sitting on the bottom, upright and the 3 main rotor blades were still attached.
He said that due to a green crew he couldn't dive on it at night. The weather was too bad for them to get back there for a few days and then they couldn't find the chopper again even though they said they found the right place.

Nothing more was ever heard of Rick.

M2 Carbine
03-22-2004, 20:27
Wrong body.

My boss at Galveston said take your bird, this pilot and mechanic and head SW.
A Brand X pilot called and said he thinks he spotted our missing pilot about 25 miles SW. The pilot was low on fuel and couldn't wait until we got there.

Me and an S-76 were searching.
The S-76 headed back in for fuel and the weather turned to crap. Heavy rain and lightning.

I was running back and forth parallel to the beach working my way out, flying at about 50 feet.
Really nice lightning display.

Our Galveston radio operator had told me a couple times to come back in due to weather.
Then the boss got on the radio for the second time and threatened me with bodily harm if I didn't get my ass back to Galveston.:)
I was getting low on fuel so it was time to call it quits.

I just knew we were going to find Rick on the next pass, but we didn't.

A couple hours later the boss asked me to ride the left door of a Bell 212. The S-76 had found the body and the Coast Guard boat was on the way out but the 76 was getting low on fuel so the 212 was going to stay with the body to guide in the Coast Guard boat.
Me and the pilot in the right rear door were going to drop markers. We weren't going to lose him again.

The Coast Guard boat pulled the body out but it wasn't Rick.

A couple weeks earlier a night platform operator was missing in the morning.
It was him.

03-25-2004, 19:30
M2 Carbine and others who were at Fort Wolters, Texas in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Did any of you know an Instructor Pilot name Rich (Richard?) Kneedler?
I believe Rich was a WO in the Army and back from a tour in Vietnam.
In those days I was a Cessna pilot and met Rich at church. We became pretty good friends and did a fair amount of fixed wing flying together as he was working on FW ratings and I was working on an instrument ticket.
He was from Missouri and single at the time. Must have been around 24-26 years old.
I was a "young man" of 42-45 in those days. World War II Navy veteran.

By the way, I read all the "there I was" stories. Sounds like flying helos in the Gulf is not exactly "choice duty." The stories about Fort Wolters also got my attention. I remember watching one of those little birds crash right behind the Holiday Inn one day.
It could have been a "tuck" by the Hughes machine.
I was a pharmaceutical sales rep and called on Fort Wolters hospital along with Carswell and Shepherd AFBs.
All the best to all of you.


03-25-2004, 19:53
There's a Richard Allan Kneedler in the FAA Data Base.

The data base has an Iowa address for him and shows he has Commercial SEL MEL Helo and Instrument Ratings, CFI-Fixed Wing, and Tower Operator certs.

He got all his certs in the early to mid 70's.

Sounds like your guy.

Log into the faa data base, get his address and write him a letter.

M2 Carbine
03-25-2004, 22:25
I didn't know him Doc.

That crash behind the Holiday In was a midair between a Bell and Hughes. I think the Hughes fell behind the Holiday in. I don't remember where the Bell fell.

What always amazed me was, with all those many hundreds of helicopters, mostly flying at 500 feet and mostly piloted by students, we had very few midairs.

I hope Wulfenite found your man.:)

03-26-2004, 11:06
Thank you Wulfenite.
That should be my man.
I'll check it out.

03-26-2004, 11:11
Yes Sir M2Carbine.
It is amazing there were no more mid-airs. I recall seeing little helos everywhere when I would be anywhere in Palo Pinto County.
I recall all the small auxiliary air fields here and there many with Vietnamese names.
I am very glad you have survived all that to this day!
Nowadays, Fort Wolters is a kind of commercial-industrial area. The hospital is in ruins and overgrown with post oak and mesquite trees. The old airfields are pasture land and Palo Pinto County and the city of Mineral Wells are almost deserted.

M2 Carbine
03-26-2004, 15:54
Yes, even though I still live pretty close I haven't been on the old base in years.

It's a shame the whole thing was moved to Ft Rucker.

Everything for a military flight school was better here than the Ft Rucker area, the weather, open land and friendly local people.

When I was laid off here I didn't even consider going there to instruct and live.

M2 Carbine
04-12-2004, 08:21
I only flew in the Rocky Mountains for little over a year.
It was the hardest, most dangerous and most interesting flying I did.

If you meet someone that has survived flying in the mountains for years, you have met a good pilot.

The guy in Provo, Utah, that hired Forest Burns and I, told us
if he could find a pilot with half our flight time but a year's mountain flying, he would hire him instead of us.
BUT maybe, because of our flight time, we might get through the year without killing ourselve.
(at the time I had about 3,000 hours)

Forest was killed when his chopper came apart in the air.

There wasn't anyone to turn me into an instant mountain pilot so it was on the job training.

Valleys will fill with fog while the next valley over may be CAVU.

One day in a Bell G3B1 (turbo charged Bell 47 helicopter) I was headed from Idaho to Mazula, Montana.
The Mazula valley looked like this.
(I don't remember where I took this shot)

My "instrument approach" for this situation was to try and find a spot where there was a little space between the clouds/fog and the mountain, then hover down the mountain from tree top to tree top.

This day, about half way down to the valley I came on the strangest sight.
There standing by a little log cabin was a guy in nothing but boots and old time Red Flannel underwear.;f
He must have heard me comming for 10 minutes.
We waved as I passed 50 foot overhead.

Now there was a man that wanted privacy. I don't think a horse could get to that place.

As I recall I had a couple hundred foot ceiling but still low vis when I reached the valley and headed down the highway for the Mazula airport, 10 miles or so away.

An airline FW called Mazula. It seems he was on his second, or third try for Mazula.
His ILS would take him over me.

Being the coward I am, I made a left turn and hid behind a mountain. If he fell short and took out the highway I didn't want to be there.;)

The airline missed and headed elswhere and Mazula gave me the airspace for a special VFR.:)

M2 Carbine
04-13-2004, 23:51
In the past I posted this elsewhere (don't remember where) so this is a shortened version.

A couple months before I retired, the Gulf weather had one last shot at me.

I flew out to this platform, from Freeport, TX in some nasty weather.
The plan was to drop off one passenger and take two further East.
I was going to stay offshore the rest of the week.

I broke out of the bad weather about 5 miles from the platform.
At the platform it was overcast and the wind was calm.

I landed and parked by the refueling pit, as the picture shows, .
The engine was running at flight idle as the two passengers got out and started to refuel the helicopter. (fuel cap is on the right side behind the right rear door.

I reached for my clipboard to log the flight.

In seconds, a very strong wind (down draft, micro burst, whatever) hit the helicopter from the left and spun it 90 degrees to the left and pushed it backwards.
The right skid broke the Red light at the refueling pit.
The aft, skid cross tube was out past the edge of the deck.
The helicopter felt like it was trying to roll over backwards off the deck.

I went forward with the cyclic stick and rolled on the throttle as fast as I could and looked back.
Too fast on the throttle and the torque might cause the helicopter to slide back further, the wind was still trying to push the chopper over the edge.

I only saw one man. I thought the other had been pushed off the heliport.

When I got 100 percent RPM, I still couldn't pick the helicopter up to move it forward
It was bad out of CG (tail heavy) due to 200 pounds of cargo in the back.

Plus, the aft crosstube is the pivot point when picking a Bell 407 up to a hover and the cross tube was off the heliport.
Trying to lift up to a hover would cause the helicopter to try to roll over backwards or at least head for the water tail first.

So I kind of skidded/danced it forward onto the heliport.

Both passengers were OK.
I told them to get in and we flew back to Freeport and the BS started.

I heard the Chief Pilot did not believe some of my report.
For instance how far the chopper was blown backwards.
(I later figured it was 8.5 inches from going overboard.)
He wasn't 407 qualified so I had to explain why I had such a problem since the aft cross tube was off the heliport.

Instead of, you did a good job, I got the feeling the attitude was, what are you trying to cover up.

After I retired I got a call from a manager.
They wanted to talk about my incident and get my opinion on the problem.

It seems another 407 had spun and was almost blown off the platform.
This time the pilot rolled off the throttle instead of going to 100 percent like I did.
A refueling passenger was struck and killed by the main rotor blade.

There's been a number of helicopters blown off the platforms over the years, with few survivors.

M2 Carbine
04-14-2004, 21:01
At Galveston I was told to take a mechanic out to a broken Sikorsky S-76 on an offshore platform.
I was flying a Bell 206L.

I asked, is there enough room for me to land with the S-76 on the heliport?
Is it a two heliport platform?

I knew I wasn't going to like the next answer so we left for the platform.:)

When I got there, Tom, one of the 76 pilots came on the radio.

I said what's the plan.

Tom said the hands had opened an area big enough for the 206 to land on the production deck.
Only problem is the deck is surrounded by light poles, crane and other junk.
So I'de have to come to a high hover and decend straight down with not much clearence.

I told Tom, get out where you can watch my blade clearance and I'll watch you.

The mechanic didn't think much of the plan until I reminded him he was facing a long sea sick boat ride if I didn't land.

It was pretty tight but I didn't hit anything.

Tom came over and said, Boy am I glad to see you.
I said, What's the problem, you been broke down for a while?

He said, No, I mean I'm glad to see YOU. I don't think anyone else would have landed here.

I wonder if he was saying I'm a super dooper pilot that can land in this tight area,
or I'm the only stupid one that would try.

;f I never asked him just what he meant.;f

M2 Carbine
04-18-2004, 10:02
I was at the company housing (a 5 person mobile home) after a long day flying out of Galveston

A fairly new hire fellow pilot came in.

She was a young, ex Army Aviator. (and yes guys, very pretty:))
I hadn't flown with her but she seemed like a competent, careful pilot.

She asked, Buck, can I ask you a question?
I said, Sure, anything.

She, This afternoon off of Freeport you passed me heading out.

Me, Yes, I heard you call coming in.

She, I had told my passengers the wind was too strong (45+ knots) so we had to return to Galveston.

Me, Good decision.

She, But you you were still heading out?

Me, You think maybe you did wrong?

She, Well, you thought it was still OK to fly.

Me, Look, YOU are in command of your aircraft. Your decisions are the ONLY ones that count.
Never, ever, do something because another pilot did it.
As long as you fly you will have your own safe limitations, which will change as you gain more experience.
Know your limitations and try to never exceed them.
But sometime you will stick your neck out too far and if you live through it you will have learned a valuable lesson.

Me, Also, if anyone is critical of a decision you make, like today, they aren't worth listening to.
If you ask for it the "old" pilots may give you advice but it's still up to you to make the final decisions.

BTW, some time later she told me she had a chance to go to A&M to become a Vet.
She asked me if I thought she should do it or continue flying.

I'll bet she is a good Vet.:)

M2 Carbine
05-07-2004, 20:39
hapuna's thread, Flight physical odd issue reminded me of this.

The Stage Fields around Mineral Wells, Texas, the Army helicopter flight school, had six parallel lanes.
Three lanes were West traffic and three lanes were East traffic.

We used the normal traffic pattern, downwind, base, final.
This made the base leg right hairy since the East and West traffic helicopters were heading at each other at the same altitude and most of the time there were several aircraft on base at the same time.
To make it worse, most of the time more than half of the choppers were being flown solo by student pilots with just a couple dozen hours logged.

About the time I started as a student in the Warrant Officer Candidate program in 1964 there was a bad accident in the 2nd class ahead of mine.

A student overshot the turn to final and hit a dual ship cutting off the tail rotor and some of the tailboom.
The solo student was killed in the crash.
The instructor and student crashed and burned but the instructor had done a hell of a job keeping the crash less than fatal.

The emergency procedure was for all helicopters in the pattern to turn away from the stage field, fly away a safe distance and wait for instructions.
Some students landed their aircraft in fields and would not fly again.
That became a very small class.

It was found the student that overshot the turn was taking ConTac for a cold.

In 66 I was an instructor and at the base hospital for something.
The instructor, from the midair, was there and was recovered enough that he was being cleared to fly again.

Some time after, there was another midair on base in which a student overshot the turn to final and hit a dual chopper.


Again about 7 foot of the tailboom was cut off and again the solo student died.

The impact and spin tried to throw the instructor out the door. His helmet was thrown off. Somehow he got to the controls

This time the instructor did an IMPOSSIBLE job of flying and got them down with minor injuries.

I heard the instructor quit.
Having the same normally fatal accident TWICE and surviving TWICE!!!!
That's too much for anyone.

05-08-2004, 20:53
Good stories M2. Sounds a bit dangerous, but I'll bet it was fun... :)

edited to add:
aside from the near crashing part...

M2 Carbine
05-08-2004, 22:57
Originally posted by kfoley
Good stories M2. Sounds a bit dangerous, but I'll bet it was fun... :)

edited to add:
aside from the near crashing part...

Yes, for the most part it was a ball and still is, what little I fly now.
Probably not many people make a living doing what they really enjoy.

05-11-2004, 16:47
some great stories here!!

here's one I'll call;
Why I don't like medevacs.

1990. I am a 3-400 hr hour copilot (H2P) in the CH-46E, assigned to HMM-262, Kaneohe Bay, HI. We are in California, 29 Palms, for a combined arms exercise (CAX) in the desert. Every night crews would rotate duty to the medevac pad next to the hospital at the "mainside" part of the base. This was highly sought after duty, because it gave the crew a chance to sleep in the BEQ, in clean sheets with a hot shower, instead of in the sand. Typically the crew was four people, the HAC, the H2P, the crewchief, and the aerial gunner/observer.

We had an enjoyable evening watching tv and having pizza and hit the rack. About 0300 we got a call to activate. We were to proceed to the hospital pad, pickup a burn victim, and take him to Norton AFB for further transport via ambulance to some burn center or another. We dressed in a hurry and while the HAC and crew went up to the 46 I called for weather and NOTAMS and was pleased to get a good report, we should have no wx issues crossing over to the basin area. Norton's PAR was reported up. I jotted down the info and ran up to the helo. we promptly cranked her up and took off to reposition about 500 yds away to the hospital pad, where we waited for the patient.

While we waited, we planned our course of action. Armed with sectionals and all the proper IFR charts for the area, a functioning TACAN, two good radios, a good wx forecast, and a full bag of gas (about 1+45 endurance) we felt good about our task. Norton was located about a 1.0 hr flight away on the West side of the mountains, just east of the LA basin. The only topograhical feature of concern was Banning Pass, which is the main crossing point for low/slow VFR traffic from the West into the basin area. It was late Spring, and we discussed the potential for the marine layer to move in from off the SoCal coast, as it typically does that time of year, but the forecaster seemed confident that due to prevailing winds it wouldn't be a factor. The marine layer, when it does come in, is typically a cloud deck a thousand or so feet thick as I recall and it can settle down very close to the ground. It would usually burn off by late morning. So all in all we were happy. I should also note the 46 of the day had a TACAN, an ADF, one UHF radio, and one VHF radio. That was it for navaids and comm.

Finally our patient arrived. We were given a quick brief by the medical folks. Our payload was two med folks and the stretcher borne patient. The Marine had attempted to start his jeep by pouring a little gas down the carb while his buddy cranked it over. In the flash fire that ensued, in his shock and inhalation he sucked down some fire I guess and was in fairly bad shape. The doc explained why Norton was our destination, it had to do with the proximity of the only burn center in the area. He said the patient was "stable for the time being" but the faster we got there the better. We made ready and I was able to contact flight service to activate our flight plan. We were on our way. It was around 0430 as I recall.

It was starry and clear and we had no issues getting to Banning Pass around 0500. At this point we had about 0+50 left of fuel. We had kept turning at 100% at the hospital for a good while because we didn't want to take the time to go thru shutdown and startup all over again and make the patient wait, we wanted to be ready to go as soon as he was wheeled out.

As we made our way through the pass I checked weather with flight service and was shocked to find the layer had in fact moved in during the last hour and a half. The HAC and I turned to look at eachother as he told us this over the radio and we gave eachother one of "those" looks. Well, the grunts like to say no plan survives the first contact with the enemy, and we like to say no plan survives the lighting of the APU, so no problem we'll adjust. We picked up an IFR clearance, told March ARTCC we had an actual, and they assigned us our own controller on a discrete freq. He turned to and helped us out, passing us wx info for every place we asked.

"Norton is reporting 200 and an a 1/4, we can just get you in under ILS mins"
pause. another one of "those looks"
"March, Cutter is negative ILS"
longer pause.
"uhh Rrroger. Cutter Norton is now reporting PAR out of service...say intentions"

we are around 0+25 fuel remaining to splash. It is just beginning to lighten outside and the blanket of cloud extends the entire basin. Mountain peaks jut above the deck, we can see the top of the deck is only around 2500-3k.

I looked at the HAC and said "uhh". He didn't say anything but looked at the fuel gauge. There is always that seminal moment in an aircraft when playtime is over and "something bad is now happening". It's like the flipping of a switch somehow. It was my firt taste of that moment.

At this point the corpsman, who up to this point has been on an ICS cranial, starts to excitedly tell us that the patients condition is deteriorating, I don't remember the particulars but I remember the HAC asking, "is his life in jeopardy?" the answer was an immediate "yes"

We put on the best game face we could and started going to work. I tuned up the TACAN to Norton and listened for its morse code. solid ID. I started asking for weather at adjacent airfields. March AFB was one, I dont remember the others. All were reporting below our instrument mins. My HAC was looking around and glancing at the sectional, reviewing our options. We had just enough fuel to make it back to Banning, which was still in the clear. It was also clear our patient would not survive a two hr ambulance ride. We had 0+20 fuel remaining. To ensure the safety of the aircraft and crew our only option was to get back to Banning, which we were both sure we could make, or failing that land on one of these exposed peaks, some of which we could discern tenable LZ's with roads nearby. And in the doing witness the near certain death of our Marine. Or, we could try an instrument approach well below mins. We discussed this very briefly and made our decision.

The HAC asked approach again for the wx at Norton.
"100 and an eigth, obscured"
"Cutter requests TACAN approach to Norton"
"Cutter, March approach, I cannot legally clear you on an IFR clearance for an approach that is below mins, the only acft making it in there are cat III ILS and some of them are executing the missed"
"March, Cutter understands, we would like to attempt the approach anyway"
there was a longer pause here and then
"Cutter, March approach, your IFR clearance is cancelled, you are cleared for TACAN runway XX [dont remember the r/w] to Norton. I will follow you down as long as I am able. Contact the tower now on XXX.X, they know you are coming, and good luck gentlemen"

The CH-46E fuel gauge is considered unreliable under 200 lbs per side, hence the NATOPS minimum. We started the approach at 200 lbs per side. I had never seen that before on a fuel gauge except in the simulator.

I looked back through the tunnel and saw they had snaked one of those tubes down his throat with a big bulb on the top and the doc was squeezing and relaxing the bulb. The doc gave me a look I'll never forget. I wish I hadn't looked back there.

Our plan was to fly down to MDA, slowing to 40 kts as we got near it. If we couldn't see the ground we would execute a missed and land on a nearby peak over the cloud deck.

We flew the approach down to MDA and didnt see anything but milk. The HAC flew and was on the gauges and I, well I looked frantically for the ground. Around 150 ft below MDA I could sense more than see a darkening below, then to our right I could barely make out the strobes that were on full blast to the runway. we broke out between 100-200 ft agl and followed the lights to the runway, where we landed and began to taxi off. we could see about 100 ft or so around us. The tower couldn't see us so we just turned off on the first lettered taxiway, taxiied clear and shutdown. The ambulance came to us. They got the Marine out and away.

We all sat in silence on the ground and smoked. Every couple of minutes we would hear a jet, multi-engine, descending to the runway, then the urgent throttle up and spooling up as they executed the missed, on after another, on cat III ILS's.

We found out later the Marine lived.

lessons learned:

1. I never, ever, want to hear another controller wish me good luck
2. you begin to "run low on fuel" the instant you start an acft with full bags
3. medevacs mess with your head. they make you take risks you would not normally take. Its an agonizing moral dilemma when faced with safety of crew and aircraft vs. saving a life.

05-11-2004, 21:28
Damn, you got a brass pair that clangs when you walk out on the ramp, man.;c

M2 Carbine
05-12-2004, 09:56
Good one DIG^c

Most of my stories end in fatalities.
But I never brought in an injured man that didn't live.
I sure understand number 3.

It's nice to read a good ending.

Gives you a good feeling doesn't it.:)

05-12-2004, 10:18
thx guys. I've replayed that flight so many times in my head... I always try to figure out what other courses of action we could have taken. I haven't put much thought into it for years, until yesterday when I wrote it all out. I should have checked the wx again sometime between 29 Palms and Banning... maybe if we knew earlier about the layer we could have figured something else out... but other than that, at each decision point along the flight that I come to, I don't know what I would have done differently.

which reminds me of another medevac I did, not as dramatic but still posed that type of dilemma, I'll post it when I have a little more time.

05-12-2004, 13:01
Originally posted by Dig
I don't know what I would have done differently.

I think the moral of the story is that flying is sometimes dangerous even if you do everything right.

I wouldent kick myself for not making another weather check. The forcast ought to be good for that long. Besides, if you'd been obsessing over the weather and putting your attention towards that, Murphy would have done-in your engines, or put up a flock of birds, or a 757,....

05-12-2004, 19:17
Originally posted by Dig
lessons learned:

1. I never, ever, want to hear another controller wish me good luck
2. you begin to "run low on fuel" the instant you start an acft with full bags
3. medevacs mess with your head. they make you take risks you would not normally take. Its an agonizing moral dilemma when faced with safety of crew and aircraft vs. saving a life.

I don't remember the statistic exactly, maybee M2 does, but it's somthing like one medevac crashes every month in the US, I remember one of those was a HI Air NG, or NG helo that went down on a medevac.

The county I work for lost it's medevac in 1989. Mothers day SUN at like 3am they were flying back from a mission, low ceiling. Apparently at the time they had little navigation equipment, so they would typically follow the main road from Norfolk/chesapeake back, or just fly along the coast from Eliz City, or Virginia Beach.

Cell company had built a tower (250 ft I think), and the construction crew wanted to knock of early, had placed the Ant-Colision lights on the tower but had not hooked them up yet.

Chopper flew right into the tower killing the pilot and the Medic.

Since then our program has made several changes. Our Mins got jacked up. Daytime 600ft ceiling, 1.5 mi vis, night 1200 ft ceiling (tallest tower in our area of 9.5 ft ASL is 1000 AGL) and 3mi vis. Our chopper is IFR w/ GPS for emergency, although we are still a VFR program, all of our pilots have over 6k hours, ATP etc, when dispatched the nature of the patient is no longer givem, just the originating destination (clinic, hospital, scene), and the receiving hospital. The medic typically calls the originating facility to make sure the pt is ready as over the past year we have been doing many shutdowns to wait while they finish getting the pt ready. The medic is not allowed to talk to the pilot about the patient.

The flip side of this is our hangar has an EMS radio base station and scanner and they can usally figure out how bad the patient is, and the pilots have been known to skirt min's. Even though it was 15 years ago that crash is still fresh in the mind of EVERYONE who gets on our helo (I fly on a fill in second medic basis), esp with the granite monument dedicated to the Pilot and Medic visible from the pad.

Dig, from your description your guy was all kinds of jacked up and needed the specialty care that only a burn center can offer. Thanks to your brave, and maybee foolish (that is not intended as a bash) flying this guy pulled through.

As prehospital personel and specialty resources we take calculaed risks for the betterment of our patients. I've always come up on the winning side but if you come up on the losing side you're not likley to repeat your mistake again.

Not sure if it's a good think but our chief pilot flew in Vietnam, apparently he crashed three times while in country. One time he was the only one to live. The final time he crashed he was knocked out, when he came to a NVA soldier was in front of him trying to shoot his AK, but for whatever reason the weapon would not discharge. Some of the soldiers in the back came to, exited the aircraft and were able to come to the pilots aid.

In closing what is perhaps my longest post here on GT, fly safe guys.

05-13-2004, 04:07
OBX, good points. ;c Especially the part about not knowing the condition of the patient. I know a lot of medevac agencies have gone to that policy, it makes sense. But still, I don't think you'll find me in the medevac business when I retire from Uncle Sam's gun club...;Q

M2 Carbine
05-13-2004, 08:16
No, I never wanted to do that full time.

I always said that getting an injured oil field worker to the hospital was the most important flying I did but sometimes you do put a lot of pressure on yourself.

Many years ago I was flying out of Sabine Pass, TX for a company that was putting in the underwater oil pipe lines.

Finding the barges with no nav equipment but a compass was hard enough, but landing on the little rocking bouncing heliport was a bugger.

One morning the weather was bad with about 150 foot ceiling, rain and maybe 1 to 1.5 miles vis. Nobody was flying.
Our offshore minimums were 500 ceiling and 3 miles vis.

The oil company dispatcher came and told me they had a man that seemed to be in real bad shape on a barge about 50 miles out.
The seas were way too rough to get a boat alongside the barge.
He asked if I would get him.
I said you have to be shi***** me, in this weather?

Also, it wasn't unheard of for an offshore hand to get an "illness" to get a ride to the beach.

I never claimed to have much in the way of good sence so I told the dispatcher I'd try.

BUT I said, "If I can get out there and if I can find the barge and if I can keep the helicopter on the heliport.....
If this is a bulls*** trip and that guy looks like he's just wanting to go home, I will take off without him and you can do whatever you want."
The dispatcher said, "Fair enough but the medic says he's in bad shape."

I took off and filed a flight plan and had to lie my ass off about how there was a little break in the weather at Sabine, etc, etc, etc.

All the way out I was telling myself what a dumbass I am. I know this is a bulls*** trip and besides I'll never find the barge in this crap and if I do I'll probably crash trying to land on the rocking damned thing.

Well, sometimes things do go right.
I ran right up on the barge. I landed without breaking anything and the guy was brought up in a litter.
He did look bad.

I filed a flight plan and headed back in telling the radio operator the weather is closing in behind me.;f

M2 Carbine
05-18-2004, 00:29
In late 1965, along with three other pilots and a couple crewmen I was at Fort Rucker to fly a couple Sikorsky H-19's back to the Maryland National Guard unit.

I'm sitting in the right seat taking this picture of the sister ship as we are getting ready to head North.

The Army was giving the old birds to the Guard and reserve units, along with everything you could haul off.

Not too many months before I had been flying them as a student.
The Army was using these old birds and A model Hueys for student training.

The class behind mine had a very bad accident in which an H-19 threw off a main rotor blade, tore out the transmission and killed the instructor and two students.
This could have had something to do with the Army's decision to get rid of the Sikorsky and they probably finally got enough Hueys for training.

The H-19 was fun to fly. A big tank with a 6 or 7 hundred horsepower radial engine in the C or D Models.
They were very underpowered as most choppers were until the turbine engines came into use.
The controls were very heavy for a helicopter and you had to be forcefull but smooth at the same time.
It was a lot of work to fly it but what a feeling of power flying that big heavy, hard to control thing with that big radial engine in front of you.:cool:

As a side note, even though I was a brand new Warrant Officer, fresh out of flight school, a lot of wavers were being worked on to make me the unit IP. I was the only one in our unit that knew how to fly the thing.;f

In Feb 66 Maryland had one of those snow storms that you usually only hear about from your Grand Parents.

I was stuck at work for three days. Two story buildings were completely covered over with snow.

Folks died and one was a pilot flying "my" H-19.
He was flying rescue/medevac missions and crashed into the trees, at night, trying to get to a woman that was in trouble.

When I finally could get home from work I called the Guard unit and asked if there was something I could do.
They said I could fly the photographer on the route they believed the pilot had taken.

The pilot was looking for a lot of flares a State Trooper was lighting.
They think he may have seen the lights of a stalled 18 wheeler milk truck.
It was snowing and the ground rose up to meet him probably giving him a total whiteout.
I'm sure he would have been trying to climb.

His "copilot" was a young black enlisted kid who knew little about helicopters and nothing about flying.

The last thing the kid remembered was the pilot saying something like, "I don't think we are going to get out of it this time".
The kid said something like, "You will make it Tiger".

The next thing, the State Trooper found him walking in the deep snow not too far from the crash.
He wasn't hurt bad and had a few small burns on his boots and clothing and didn't know what had happened.

Most of the H-19 had burned bad from the av gas and magnizium transmission and engine.
I took note that both front seat belt hooks were laying in the wreckage where they should be and were STILL FASTENED.

How that kid was thrown out of that shoulder harness and seat belt and through the windshield I'll never know.
I don't know if he ever remembered.

RIP Major.

04-23-2005, 22:05
Wow... remind me never to fly in a heli...

Good job guys...

05-20-2005, 01:08
Hey, dumb question but did any of you guys know Kris Kristofferson?

M2 Carbine
05-20-2005, 09:52
He had left before I started at PHI, 1973.
I ran across people that knew him.
Some said he was really into music, working at it all the time.

08-18-2006, 22:37
Wow just found this. When I was a EMT we also were not allowed to give any info on PT to chopper crew until they showed up. I still recall the first air ambulance I put a pt on. It was a waste. She was DRT. Only thing working was her heart was beating. I saw the "lights" go out on her. (while ventaliting her) She didn't make minimums so they had me (fudge) things and still she didn't qualify So Dr. changed some numbers. Lucky it was clear night but she was transported and spent a week on full support before expired.

08-22-2006, 02:32