Helicopter CH-47B 66-19113

Information on U.S. Army helicopter CH-47B tail number 66-19113
The Army purchased this helicopter 0667
Total flight hours at this point: 00000437
Date: 07/16/1968
Incident number: 680716171ACD Accident case number: 680716171 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: 271 ASHC
The station for this helicopter was Can-Tho in
Number killed in accident = 1 . . Injured = 2 . . Passengers = 2
costing 1104884
Source(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Army Aviation Safety Center database.

Crew Members:

Passengers and/or other participants:

Accident Summary:

The aircraft mission was to (1) administer a 90 day standardization check ride to CW2 Jones and (2) to pick up a jeep, supplies, and two passengers at Vung Tau, RVN, and return to Can Tho. The route of flight was (1) to Binh Thuy AFB where two autorotational landings and one single engine running landing were made as part of the check ride. The flight then proceeded (2) to Vung Tau, RVN, during which time CW2 Jones practiced some SAS off flight. After picking up the jeep, supplies and passengers at Vung Tau, the flight proceeded (3) to Dong Tam Airfield, RVN for the purpose of refueling before returning to Can Tho. Upon approach to Dong Tam, all refueling points were in use, and the aircraft was advised to land in the north 40 (large field west of runway 17-35) until a refueling point became vacant. When cleared, CW2 Jones hovered the aircraft across the runway to the refueling point, set the aircraft down set the parking brake, and beeped the engines down to minimal beep (210 rpm). The ramp was lowered and SGT Lowery began refueling the left fuel cell while SP4 Juliano began refueling the right fuel cell. After about 2-3 minutes, a bump was felt by CW2 jones in the cyclic control which was accompanied by a loud noise. Approximately five seconds later the same thing happened again. Almost immediately two more bumps in quick succession were felt and heard followed by the nearly simultaneous tearing from the aircraft of the forward transmission, violent pivoting of the aircraft fuselage to the right, and the outbreak of fire in the heater compartment area and the aft pylon area. The aircraft remained upright, heading 235 degrees on its refueling pad. CW2 Jones, Baker and Newhouse exited the burning aircraft while SP5 Noble and SP4 Juliano had moved north away from the fire. LT Simpson had already sustained fatal injuries from the forward transmission leaving the aircraft and SGT Lowery was laying with his left arm severed underneath the aircraft where he had been knocked by its violent turning movement. Fire turcks and ambulances arrived shortly thereafter and succeeded in extinguishing the fire and evacuating the injured to medical facilities.

War Story:
I am (former) CW2 Ron Jones. I was the pilot in the right seat. Lt John Simpson was the pilot in the left seat who was killed. I did not get a chance to thank you for helping my crew members that day.

After the accident happened I pulled the throtles to stop and activated the fire bottles. After checking Lt Simpson and seeing that he was dead, I exited the aircraft on my own power through the righthand pilot's door before anyone arrived at the aircraft. I walked across the runway and set down before I realized that I was not breathing. I had been hit in the chest so hard that the wind was knocked out of me. After I caught my breath I saw people (you, Richie King?) pulling Lt Simpson out the top of the cockpit.

The crew chief, Spec 5(?) Lovey(?), was refueling the left side of the aircraft and he was the one with the arm severed. I was looking at photos of the aircraft that I found a few weeks ago. It sure brings back memories.

In July of 1968, I was told the cause of the accident was a maintenance error. The aircraft had been worked on late the night before and the nuts on the bolts joining a flex-pack in the drive shaft had not been safety wired. I was told by maintenance personnel that the nuts in a flex-pack had worked loose and allowed the drive shaft to separate. We felt bumps like something was hitting the aircraft, Lt. Simpson and I both thought that one of the Hueys that were refueling behind us had hit us. Lt. Simpson the AC giving me a check ride and he told me to get ready to take off so I beeped up the engines and started to pull enough collective to get us light on the wheels in case we had to immediately clear the area. That is when the aircraft exploded. I was told that when the drive shaft to the rear rotor disconnected, full power from both engines went to the front rotor. With both engines reacting to give me takeoff power, and all the power to the front rotor, the front rotor head ripped upward out of the aircraft, moved forward and settled to the ground. As it was dropping to the ground one or more rotor blades struck the aircraft from the left side. That is where the crew chief was standing refueling when the rotor blade severed his left arm. A blade also came through the top of the cockpit striking Lt. Simpsom in the back of the helmet killing him. I had scuffs on the top of my helmet with paint from the rotor blade. Lt. Simpson was tall and always rode with his seat high. I liked my seat low because it made me feel like a smaller target. I believe that having my seat low probably saved my life. If the accident report says the transmission was the problem, then our maintenance people got it wrong, even though they examined the aircraft. The other possibility is that someone was covering up the maintenance error. If you read the accounts of other aircraft having a transmission lockup, they say that both sets of rotor blades slowed down. That is not what happened here, the front rotor never slowed down. The bumps we felt were from the front and rear rotor blades hitting. They were no longer connected and the rear rotor was slowing down without power. I reached up to cut the fuel valves, but could not because they were not there. The whole top of the cockpit was gone. I did pull the engines to stop and then I pulled the fire handles. From: Ron Jones

This record was last updated on 03/08/2009

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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