Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1D tail number 63-08826
The Army purchased this helicopter 0864
Total flight hours at this point: 00003045
Date: 10/09/1969 MIA-POW file reference number: 1500
Incident number: 691009301ACD Accident case number: 691009301 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: 118 AHC
The station for this helicopter was Bien Hoa in South Vietnam
UTM grid coordinates: YT267273
Number killed in accident = 7 . . Injured = 1 . . Passengers = 5
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Reference Notes. Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Army Aviation Safety Center database. Also: 1500 ()
Loss to Inventory
P CW4 BAILEY JAMES ALBERT KIA
P W1 ST KILHOURNE
CE E4 O COWHERD
G SP5 TURNER JAMES HENRY BNR
Passengers and/or other participants:
SGT SUYDAM JAMES LAWRENCE, AR, PX, BNR
SGT DRIVER DALLAS ALAN, AR, PX, BNR
PFC FIELDS ROBERT JR, AR, PX, KIA
SGT GARBETT JIMMY RAY, AR, PX, BNR
SGT MOORE RAYMOND GREGORY, AR, PX, BNR
Personnel in Incident: James Henry Turner; Jimmy R. Garbett; Raymond G. Moore; James L. Suydam; Dallas A. Driver; (all issing). WO Kilbourne (the pilot - survived); unnamed crew chief, (survived immediate crash, later drowned - remains recovered); CW4 James A. Bailey (aircraft commander - remains recovered)
SYNOPSIS: On October 9, 1969, a UH1H helicopter crew and passengers were attempting an extraction from a mined pickup zone in eastern Long Khanh Province, South Vietnam near the shores of the Song Dong Nai River.
During the extraction attempt, the helicopter's rotor blade struck trees, causing the loss of rotor RPM's and lift capability. The helicopter began losing altitude, turned right and headed west and downriver in an attempt to regain air speed. Shortly thereafter, the aircraft struck 15-20 feet of water in an almost level attitude, and sank on its left side in less than 10 seconds.
Immediate and continuous air and water searches, loudspeaker broadcasts, and phamplet distributions were conducted during the period of 9-15 October and 19-21 October, suspended October 16-18 only because of poor weather conditions. No recovery was made of any of those missing from the aircraft, but the remains of two personnel aboard were located and subsequently identified.
A LRRP swimmer trying to inspect the site had difficulty staying afloat even with a rope. The individual reported that equipment seen on the shore after the crash appeared to be alternately submerged and then reappear. It could not be determined at the time how many persons escaped the aircraft. One who was known to escape (unnamed in Army records) reported that he could not make it to shore and went under. Another survivor reported seeing him go down within 3-4 feet of him, but never saw him again. One of the individuals who was initially seen to survive, later drowned or was lost in the indicent.
The only survivor of the original crash was WO Kilbourne, the pilot. The two remains located were identified as the crew chief, who had survived the immediate crash, but later drowned. CW4 James A. Bailey, the aircraft commander, was lost and remains recovered.
The waters of the Song Dong Nai River were swift and treacherous. It is particularly tragic that men who survived an aircraft would drown trying to reach safety. Driver, Garbett, Moore and Turner were listed as Killed, Body Not Recovered. Since their remains were never found, they are listed with honor among the missing.
AIRCRAFT WAS ON A COMBAT ASSAULT OPERATION. DURING THE MORNING THE AIRCRAFT HAD BEEN MAKING INSERTIONS AND EXTRACTIONS IN VARIOUS LZ'S AND PS'S. AT 1300 HOURS AIRCRAFT SHUT DOWN FOR LUNCH AT BLACK HORSE. THE FLIGHT CRANKED AGAIN AT 1415. EACH AIRCRAFT TOOK ON A FULL LOAD OF FUEL, 1400 LBS. AT 1420 THE FLIGHT LEFT BLACK HORSE ENROUTE TO THE LZ TO EXTRACT TROOPS. THE FLIGHT TOOK APPROXIMATELY 20 MINUTES. THE LX WAS A THREE-SHIP LZ. CA BAILEY'S AIRCRAFT WAS IN THE CHALK 6 POSITION, MAKING HIM THE LAST AIRCRAFT IN THE SECOND GROUP OF THREE. CA BAILEY LANDED HIS AIRCRAFT IN THE CENTER OF THE LZ WITH NO TROUBLE AND LOADED FIVE U.S. TROOPS ABOARD HIS SHIP. AT THIS TIME HE PERFORMED A THREE FOOT HOVER CHECK AND ACCORDING TO THE PILOT THE RPM BLED DOWN TO 6400. THE SHIP WAS THEN RETURNED TO THE GROUND AND ALL TROOPS REMAINED ON THE AIRCRAFT. NO ATTEMPT TO TAKEOFF WAS MADE UNTIL THE OTHER TWO SHIPS HAD CLEARED THE LZ, AND THEIR ROTOR WASH HAD DISSIPATED. CA BAILEY DID NOT REPOSITION TO UTILIZE THE FULL LENGTH OF THE LZ, BUT MADE HIS TAKEOFF FROM THE GROUND FROM THE POINT OF LANDING. HIS TAKEOFF HEADING WAS APPROXIMATELY 210 WHICH OFFERED THE BEST DEPARTURE ROUTE FROM THE LZ. THE WINDS AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT WERE CALM AND NOT A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR. AFTER THE AIRCRAFT HAD TRAVELED ABOUT 150 FEET, THE RETREATING ROTOR BLADE STRUCK A BAMBOO THICKET WITH BAMBOO THAT WAS THREE INCHES IN DIAMETER. THE BAMBOO WAS FORTY-FIVE FEET TALL AND THE ROTOR BLADE STRUCK THE BAMBOO 21 FEET FROM THE GROUND. AT THE TIME OF THE ROTOR STRIKE THE RPM WAS 6000. THE AIRCRAFT PICKED UP A SEVERE VIBRATION AFTER STRIKING THE BAMBOO. THE AIRCRAFT CONTINUED ON A STRAIGHT COURSE AFTER THE BLADE STRIKE FOR APPROXIMATELY 75 METERS. THE AIRCRAFT COMMANDER THEN MADE A RIGHT TURN AND MADE A BRIEF RADIO CALL STATING HE WAS GOING IN THE RIVER. AT THIS TIME, IT WAS OBSERVED THAT CA BAILEY ZEROED THE AIRSPEED AND ALLOWED THE AIRCRAFT TO SETTLE IN THE WATER WHILE HE WAS APPLYING FULL PITCH. THE AIRCRAFT STARTED A ROLL TO THE LEFT. THE RETREATING BLADE STRUCK THE WATER, BROKE, CAME AROUND THE MAST AND LODGED IN THE RIGHT FRONT OF THE FUSELAGE. AT THE TIME OF IMPACT, THE FORCE OF THE BLADE STRIKING THE WATER CAUSED THE TRANSMISSION TO TEAR LOSE FROM ITS MOUNTS AND COME PARTIALLY THROUGH THE FIRE WALL. AS THE AIRCRAFT SETTLED INTO THE WATER THE TAIL ROTOR STRUCK THE WATER CAUSING THE TAIL ROTOR DRIVE SHAFT TO TWIST AND FINALLY BREAK AT THE 42 DEG GEAR BOX. THE AIRCRAFT CONTINUED TO ROLL TO THE LEFT UNTIL IT WAS COMPLETELY INVERTED. IT STAYED AFLOAT UPSIDE DOWN FOR APPROXIMATELY 7 TO 10 SECONDS, THEN IT CONTINUED TO ROLL TO THE LEFT SIMULTANEOUSLY SINKING NOSE FIRST. THE AIRCRAFT CAME TO REST UNDER THE WATER WITH ONLY SIX FEET OF ROTOR BLADE REMAINING ABOVE THE SURFACE. AS THE AIRCRAFT BEGAN TO SETTLE INTO THE RIVER, WO KILBOURNE UNSNAPPED HIS SEAT BELT AND JUMPED FROM THE AIRCRAFT BEFORE THE BLADE STRUCK THE WATER. HE TOOK OFF HIS BODY ARMOR BUT DID NOT DISCARD IT AND BEGAN TO SWIN TOWARDS THE SHORE. HE FOUND SP4 COWHERD A FEW FEET AWAY AND GAVE HIM HIS BODY ARMOR SINCE HE WAS CONFIDENT OF HIS ABILITY TO SWIM TO SHORE AND SP4 COWHERD WAS HAVING DIFFICULTY. WO1 KILBOURNE SWAM A LITTLE FARTHER AND NOTICED SP4 TURNER AND TRIED TO GET HIM TO GRAB A FLAK VEST THAT WAS FLOATING BY. SP4 TURNER DID NOT GRAB THE FLAK VEST, HOWEVER, AND HE WENT UNDER A FEW FEET AWAY AND WAS NOT SEEN AGAIN. WO1 KILBOURNE CONTINUED TO SWIM TOWARDS SHORE AND STOPPED ONCE TO LOOK AROUND. HE STATED THAT HE COULD SEE CA BAILEY'S FACE, BUT BAILEY WAS MUCH FARTHER OUT IN THE RIVER AND DID NOT SEEM TO BE MOVING VERY MUCH. WO KILBOURNE TURNED AND SWAN A LITTLE FURTHER WHERE HE FOUND A WATER JUG THAT HAD BEEN THROWN OUT BY ONE OF THE GUNSHIPS AND HE USED THIS TO HELP HOLD HIMSELF UP. AS HE LOOKED BACK OVER THE RIVER, HE COULD NO LONGER SEE CA BAILEY. SHORTLY AFTER THIS, ONE OF THE HELICOPTERS IN THE FLIGHT HOVERED DOWN AND PICKED UP WO KILBOURNE AND SP4 COWHERD AND FINDING NO ONE ELSE DEPARTED FOR THE MEDICAL FACILITIES AT LONG BINH.\\
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