Helicopter UH-1H 68-15220

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 68-15220
The Army purchased this helicopter 1268
Total flight hours at this point: 00001289
Date: 01/03/1970
Incident number: 700103121ACD Accident case number: 700103121 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: D/3/5 CAV
South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 2 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 0
costing 289345
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Army Aviation Safety Center database. Also: OPERA, Tony Skletstoser (Operations Report. )
Summary: The aircraft came apart during a test flight and impacted in a rice puddy killing the two pilots. There were no EM on the ship.
Loss to Inventory and Helicopter was not recovered

Crew Members:

Accident Summary:

At approximately 1530 hours, WO1 Derosier (the name was misspelled in accident summary) preflighted and accepted for a test flight a UH-1H aircraft, SN 68-15220. The aircraft was to be test flown for replacement of the elevator horn assembly. WO1 Derosier was the test pilot and in command of the aircraft. CPT Moody was acting as a technical observer. WO1 Derosier called Vinh Long tower for a maintenance hover check, and then called for direct hover to POL for refueling. At 1543 hours he called for departure and informed the tower that he would be south of the airfield for a test flight and would remain up on the tower frequency. At approximately 1600 hours, a partial transmission was heard over the tower UHF frequency. This radio transmission was 10.5 seconds in length. It contained only noise except for the last two seconds when someone was yelling. The noise sounded like rotor blades turning and slowing down, with a high wind whistle fading in and out as if it was caused by just one of the blades. The whistling started approximately two seconds after the transmission began. At the start of the tape, the rotor sounds were approximately six per second, and at seven seconds from start of transmission the sounds had decreased to approximately three per second. The board made a copy of the FAA tape and evaluated it using speed control devices to slow and speed up the tapes, and high and low frequency filter networks to cut noise levels. It is suspected that the last transmission said: "The rotor, We've lost the rotor." The entire tape was played for personal friends of both aviators and the voices were identified. All voice transmissions were made by WO1 Derosier except the last one which was identified as CPT Moody's voice. It is suspected, due to the noise level versus the voice level and the quality of the voice transmissions, compared to the prior transmissions, that WO1 Derosier inadvertently keyed his mike during the emergency and CPT Moody's yelling was picked up on WO1 Derosier's mike boom. Vulture 27, an aircraft of the 162nd AHC, piloted by CW2 Geoff McConnell and WO1 James Ewart, made the following call on UHF Guard frequency 24 seconds after the end of aircraft 220's last transmission: "Any aircraft. This is Vulture 27 on guard, aircraft between Can Tho and Vinh Long, aircraft just crashed, (pause), on the highway directly between Can Tho and Vinh Long. Please assist." There were two aircraft in the close proximity of aircraft 220 when it crashed. The crews of both aircraft saw the accident. Each person in each aircraft was interviewed as soon as possible. These interviews were conducted privately and on an individual basis. There were quite a few discrepancies between each of the witnesses about the exact sequence of events and correct altitude, and attitude of the aircraft. After examining the aviation experience of each witness, and after studying each aircraft's relative position to WO1 Derosier's aircraft, I have determined the following to be the sequence of events of this accident: Aircraft 220 was flying south on the east side of the Can Tho road with a heading of 200 degrees and an altitude of 1500 FT. The aircraft yawed or started a turn to the right, then turned back to the left with possibly a pitch up in attitude. The aircraft then continued into a steep left bank with the nose dropping down into the vertical position. At approximately 1000 FT, the blades, head, and transmission came off the aircraft. Approximately at this same time small unidentifiable debris came off the aircraft. The aircraft continued in a slow spin of one or two revolutions about the roll axis. It struck the ground in a near vertical, nose first, up-right position with a slight southward horizontal velocity (see photo #5). Upon impact, the aircraft burst into flames. The impact fire was confined to a small area. The main rotor hub, with the blades attached, was found 240 FT, on a heading of 170 degrees from the crash site. The transmission with the mast and attached components, impacted approximately 600 FT, on a heading of 130 degrees from the crash site. The transmission was buried in three feet of mud, under approximately four feet of water. One of the stabilizer bar mixing levers, with the pitch change horn from the white blade, was found near by (see photo #17). Other pitch change horn was still attached to the red blade. The last ten feet (approximately) of the tail boom section was relatively undamaged by fire and was in close proximity of the main impact point. This part also was recovered for inspection. The right cargo door was found approximately 50 feet to the south of the center of the wreckage (see photo # 5). Both aviators were still in their seats when their bodies were recovered. The crash site was an extremely muddy rice paddy with two to three feet of mud.

War Story:
What follows is an edited version of part of a Copyright 1997 article written by James R. "Tony Tiger" Spletstoser that was posted on the D/3/5th Cav Website; see Hotlink: A. This article is part of his unpublished book, "Hit's Through The Chin Bubble." He was a civilian employed by Dynalectron Corp. who had a contract to collect Battle Damage Data for Aberdeen Proving Ground. He was trained as a fixed wing pilot, an aircraft mechanic, and photographer for service in Vietnam. A maintenance test pilot WO Terry Derosier took a UH-1H up for a test flight to try to determine the cause of a hi-freq vibration that would randomly start and build to a point that it almost shakes the aircraft apart. Witnesses stated that the Huey was flying at 1500/2000 feet when suddenly it pitched up and rolled inverted. After the rotor separated, the aircraft then dropped like a rock to the rice paddy. He and the Captain flying co-pilot with him never had a chance. It was believed that the accident was the result of hydraulics hard-over condition that had gotten set up when Derosier tried to stimulate the hi-freq to begin. You do this by setting up your trim for hands-off level flight and then batting the cyclic stick smartly. Normally it returns to neutral, but if you have a hi-freq problem, you will have set it off. The theory is that this time the cyclic knocked over and stayed there, the hydraulics locking up. This ends Tony's narrative. Tony; about WO Terry Derosier's last flight; I know you are probably right about Derosier and the Slick. But I RED X'd that Bird for noise in the transmission. It was a good Bird, but I wanted out of it during the mission. I told them, the people in maintenance, about what I had kept hearing and they just did their typical 'chip detector speech' and sent in a fluid system sample. When I heard about the accident, I felt like I had failed at my job by not being more insistent. I have thought about it all these years. I had gotten to know that aircraft by having flown in that ship for a while. My assigned ship #405, was in the hanger for a tail boom change. While I was waiting to get #405 back from the hanger, I crew chief'd on the one that Derosier was test flying when he went down. It was strange to see this in writing at this late date. Questions being answered by someone that I did not even know then. Sure wish I had said more about what I thought. But then, I guess we couldn't all come back. Submitted by Mike "MAC" McGuire. The night before Derosier crashed, I was in his hooch drinking with him and other D Troop pilots. Derosier was telling me how he could do the same things in a UH-1 that he could in an OH-6A. I told him if he didn't quit screwing around he'd buy it. We all speculated later that he was doing some hotdogging when the rotor came off. However, that may not been a factor since they were at altitude and the mission was to check out the cause of the reported hi freq. There was a witness in an O-1 Bird Dog who saw the crash. Submitted 5 Jun 1999 by Chuck Nole, Crusader 34.

This record was last updated on 12/25/1999

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Date posted on this site: 11/13/2023

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