CW2 Steven "Steve" D Grooms was a potential VHPA member who died after his tour in Vietnam on 05/03/1981 at the age of 31.2 from A/C accident
Flight Classes 70-11 and 70-7
Date of Birth 02/18/1950
Served in the U.S. Army
Served in Vietnam with 174 AHC in 70-71
This information was provided by Morgan H. Mills

More detail on this person: Helicopter accident working for a commercial helicopter company somewhere in South America. From Ludger O. Suarez-Burgoa To Date Sat 21:54 Dear Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, Additions about GROOMS STEVEN D. I'm writing to you to add more information about GROOMS STEVEN D, because I know about his last days. My mother worked with him in the same Cap. Grooms' company, in La Paz Bolivia (South America). Captain Grooms or simply 'Steve' (as he was known in the company) worked for the SJ Groves & Sons Construction Company (an American contractor with headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota) as the pilot of the Helicopter Aerospatiale SA315 Lama during a construction project in La Paz, Bolivia. The accident was near the locality called Cotapata, in the Department of La Paz, in Bolivia country; in the middle of the Andes range, where heights are one average 3500 meters above sea level and up to 5000 meters: There in Cotapata we are around 4000 meters. The incident is described in a trial from the company against Aerospatiale, as follows. "In May 1977, Groves, a major highway contractor, contracted with the government of Bolivia to build a 32-mile, asphalt-paved highway, one of the highest altitude roadway construction projects ever undertaken, from La Paz to Cotapata, Bolivia. Groves had previously ordered from Aerospatiale an Aerospatiale Lama helicopter, manufactured by Societe Industrialle Aerospatiale, a French corporation of which Aerospatiale is the United States subsidiary. Groves received the helicopter on June 14, 1977, and shipped it from the United States to Bolivia, where it became operational in August 1977." "On April 30, 1981, the helicopter was involved in an accident while returning to the Bolivia construction site after having delivered a load of blasting powder to a base camp located in an inaccessible area. The pilot was killed, and the helicopter was badly damaged. A passenger was injured but survived the crash. In addition to damage to the helicopter, Groves lost the use of the helicopter and suffered other incidental and consequential damages, including the loss of a small amount of other property, a high frequency aircraft radio and two pilot communication headsets which Groves had purchased separately and installed in the helicopter." Here to say that the accident was on April 30, 1981; but Cap. Grooms didn't die in the accident. He survived for three days in the hospital's intensive care unit, until his disease on May 3, 1981. Continuing with the Trial report: "Groves (the construction company) contends that the crash occurred because of a defect in the helicopter. Specifically, Groves alleges that the fatigue failure of a component part in the collective pitch control mixing unit of the helicopter eliminated the pilot's ability to control the pitch of the rotor blades. Once the rotor blades lost their pitch, there was no force acting to keep the helicopter aloft, and it crashed." But, under a personal communication with my mother (Rosario Burgoa), who was the radio operator of the main office in La Paz for the construction company at the time of the accident, she says that: "... the helicopter was escorting a pickup truck (of the same company) that was returning from the campament to the headquarters". "The helicopter was flying low among the mountains of the rugged Andes range, where there are strong gusts of wind of unpredictable directions and intensities. Therefore, the pilot lost control of the helicopter and due to the low altitude he was flying, he was unable to regain stability." The passenger, who was the mechanic of the aircraft next to him, survived. The passenger later narrated that "... during the last seconds of the incident, Cap. Grooms told him <<...You have small children, and more children than me>>. Therefore, in the last few seconds, Grooms could perform their last maneuvers to control the fall, so that the helicopter fell on the pilot's side and not on the mechanic's side, thus saving the mechanic's life." Best regards, Ludger O. Suarez-Burgoa

Burial information: Skyway Memorial Gardens, Palmetto, FL

This information was last updated 06/22/2020

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Date posted on this site: 03/10/2024

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