More detail on this person: CA037-04 Chauncey Collard Collection Biographical Sketch Chauncey Collard was employed by Air America on September 7, 1965. He served as Training and Standards Instructor for Rotary Wing Aircraft stationed at Saigon, Vietnam. He was separated from the company June 30, 1975. www.historynet.com/air-america-played-a-crucial-pa rt-of-the-emergency Most of the shuttles could be termed routine, although there was nothing routine about the entire operation. Some missions were more'sporty' than others. At age fifty-five, Chauncey J. Collard was surely the oldest helicopter pilot flying on April 29. A former navy lieutenant, he had been with Air America since 1965 and had survived the company's hazardous combat-support operations in Laos. When the Air America pilots were grabbing helicopters before the Vietnamese could steal them, Collard had ended up with UH-1H 70-15866. He was not happy with it. The Huey was notoriously tail-heavy and would shake violently at speeds over ninety knots. Several weeks before, Collard had spent two days trying to correct the center of gravity problem but without success. He would have liked another aircraft for the evacuation, but he was stuck with 866. Compounding Collard's problems, he soon learned, was the disastrous loss of Air America's fuel tanker. The Huey carried enough JP-4 for about two hours and twenty minutes of flying. With the refueling point now sixty to eighty miles away in the South China Sea, he would be able to make only three to five trips from downtown Saigon to the DAO before he had to head out to the fleet for fuel. His shuttles went off without major incident until midafternoon, when he was directed to pick up four CIA men on the rooftop of a three-story house across the avenue from the downtown Catholic church. Not a designated HLZ, the house stood in a circle of other houses, all surrounded by tall trees. Also, there was a wall running around the roof where they waited. 'As I was alone,' Collard noted, 'I had to be careful in clearing my left side and tail from the trees and wall.' Collard worked his way slowly to a landing. The CIA men came running out of the stairway, yelling that there were armed and unfriendly South Vietnamese on the floor below - and headed up the stairs behind them. Three of the CIA men jumped into the back of the helicopter, but the fourth individual decided that he was going to ride in the left front seat. This would be a problem because earlier in the day Collard had moved the seat full forward to prevent anyone from sitting in it. The man was 'in full panic,' Collard recalled. His eyes were huge, and he was sweating profusely. Dressed in a safari suit, Aussie bush hat, and carrying a CAR-15 carbine, he weighed more than three hundred pounds. Collard kept yelling at him to get in the back of the Huey, but he refused. 'Somehow,' Collard said in 1992, 'he managed to get his gut and butt into the seat, and I damn near lost the controls while he knocked them around doing it. I couldn't hit, or shoot him, as I had both hands full trying to hang on. When he finally sat down, I couldn't move the cyclic because his gut was against it. To this day, I don't remember climbing up through all those trees. That fat, panicky S.O.B. pulled the collective pitch control up under his arm and we were now at least 300 feet up, and fast losing turns on the main rotor. Meantime, I'm trying to stand on the collective to get it back from this bastard trying to kill us all. I'll never know how far we dropped RPM, but I finally got controls back.' Collard flew to the embassy rooftop, about two blocks away. After landing, 'I had to wrestle with the S.O.B. again, while he tried climbing out of the seat.' He finally made it. He also managed to take with him Collard's briefcase, containing his passport and other important documents. Fortunately, another pilot spotted the briefcase as it lay on the roof and returned it to Collard later in the day.
Burial information: National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ
This information was last updated 08/29/2017
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Date posted on this site: 11/02/2023
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