02 June 2005

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst!

Most of my Viet Nam flying was done in the UH1-C,
the "Huey" that we all think of when we imagine a helicopter in Viet Nam.

The "Charley model" Huey was underpowered for the job we asked it to do. They were replaced by the faster, more powerful AH1-G "HueyCobra", later shortened to just "Cobra".

The Cobra was designed from the outset to be a weapons platform and was a quantum leap better than the old "Charleys" I flew!

My unit started taking delivery of Cobras three months before I left Viet Nam, so I got a chance to fly them before coming home. They were stable, accurate, and menacing looking........a great gunship!

I found this narrative at the Viet Nam Helicopter Flight Crew website. It's the story of a Cobra gunship being hit by a Soviet SA-7 shoulder fired missile.

The enemy started using shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles after I had left the country.
I'm mighty glad I didn't have to worry about them!
At the end of the war, pilots had modified their tactics in order to avoid being acquired as a target by these missiles.

If you fly Robinson helicopters, particularly the R22, you should read this story and digest the emergency procedure this pilot uses.
Here's why:

During the Robinson Safety Course at Torrance, they tell the story of a Japanese woman on a solo flight in an R22, trying to adjust her kneeboard, when it gets away from her and flies out the left door of her aircraft.
It strikes and catastrophically fails the helicopters' tail rotor and tail rotor gearbox, which fall off the aircraft. The resulting forward shift of the Center of Gravity of the aircraft pitches the nose down and makes it uncontrollable.
She is killed in the accident.

With the tail of the aircraft shot off by the missile, this pilot finds himself in a similarly desperate situation. But because he had considered the possibility of this happening, he was able to manipulate the controls in a way that saved his life, and the life of his front seater!

So read the article.......Think about it.........Visualize it!


And let's pray none of us ever needs to use this technique in an emergency situation!

1 comment:

mike said...

The Huey to me seems like an amazing, revolutionary platform.

It is amazing to think about that airframe and its capabilities. 205 firefighting birds, 412 executive and medevac, Whiskey Cobra... amazing indeed!

More amazing, in my opinion, were the Huey pilots. In every documentary film I have seen, the pilots were calm, professional and ruthlessly efficient in their abilities.

Dustoffs, Slicks, Gunships....

Coming into a hot LZ with .30 caliber size holes coming through the aluminum... the pilots scanning the LZ, unbothered by the 7.62 slugs zipping past.

There is something about a two-blade ride. I have never had the fortune to be in a huey in flight, but I have heard the 'thap thap thap' many times.

An old Guard cobra landed at Spirit one time and we walked over to look. The blade seemed like it was six feet wide!

When the pilot took of and hovered over us the RPMs looked so slow that it seemed physically impossible the machine could fly.

I have had the fortune of riding in a 206, Bell 47 and an R-22. There is something comforting about the gentle oscillations of the single rotor.