Helicopter UH-1H 69-15115

Information on U.S. Army helicopter UH-1H tail number 69-15115
The Army purchased this helicopter 0270
Total flight hours at this point: 00000225
Date: 05/23/1970
Incident number: 700523131ACD Accident case number: 700523131 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: A/7/17 CAV
The station for this helicopter was Camp Holloway in South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 1 . . Injured = 3 . . Passengers = 1
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 (Operations Report. )
Loss to Inventory and Helicopter was not recovered

Crew Members:

Passengers and/or other participants:
** ******************, LCO, G

Accident Summary:

The aircraft was started and the crew prepared for departure from the Bon Sar Pa helipad vicinity coordinates YU830740. The takeoff was made into a light wind from the northeast. Before the aircraft reached translational lift, CPT Blake, the pilot, saw a strand of communication wire strung about fifteen (15) feet above the ground and perpendicular to his flight path. To avoid the wire he immediately lowered the collective and decelerated the aircraft into a tail low attitude, which compounded by a slight downslope, caused the tail stinger and heels of the skids to contact the ground and rapidly push the tail back into the air, thereby lowering the nose. The nose of the aircraft, specifically the chin bubbles and radio compartment, contacted the ground. The aircraft then pitched up and to the right in a tail high, nose low attitude causing the main rotor blade to strike the ground. The aircraft then pitched to the right on its nose and was flipped onto its left side when the main rotor blade struck the ground. The aircraft came to rest about twenty five (25) feet south of where the skids initially contacted the ground. The door gunner and two passengers immediately exited the aircraft. 1LT Armstrong turned off the fuel and was pulled from the wreckage by crew members of another helicopter. CPT Blake completed the shut down of the aircraft and exited. He then took a count of his crew and found that SP5 Craig was missing. SP5 Craig was located partly under the wreckage near the crewchief well. Numerous attempts were made to free SP5 Craig. Finally a wrecker truck arrived and lifted the wreckage from SP5 Craig. He was dead at that time. The aircraft did not burn although JP4 was running out the tanks and a red smoke grenade was set off. The smoke grenade also cooked off two or three .50 caliber rounds.

War Story:
I was the Lift Platoon Sergeant at this time. The Troop was living in tents at Ban Me Thuot East but I recall that we still had some aircraft at Camp Enari. 115 was our C&C ship. It had the extra radio console and a 50-cal mounted on the left side instead of the normal M-60. As I understand it, when the aircraft rolled over on its side SP5 Craig was pinned by the 50-cal and died there. The passengers were the liaison team from the ARVN ground unit as well as FO for the ARVN artillery. This accident happened early in the morning. We had another ship that was our alternate C&C bird. By about 9 or 10 o'clock we had it console removed from 115 and installed in the other Huey, so the operation continued. The pilots and SP4 Pointer were taken back to East. Then a Chinook came in and lifted 115 out. SP5 Craig was well liked and there were a lot of hard feelings about his death. I think that CPT Blake was transferred out of the Troop the next day because we didn't see him anymore. Submitted by SGT Leroy 'Arkie' Rutherford at the 2000 VHCMA Reunion.

This record was last updated on 06/22/2000

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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021

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