Information on U.S. Army helicopter OH-6A tail number 68-17145
The Army purchased this helicopter 0569
Total flight hours at this point: 00000693
Incident number: 700905031ACD Accident case number: 700905031 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: 2 BDE 4 INF
The station for this helicopter was An Khe in South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 1 . . Injured = 1 . . Passengers = 1
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
P 1LT SMITH PRESTON LEE KIA
Passengers and/or other participants:
O3 WW HULING, PAX, D
AT APPROXIMATELY 1000 HOURS ON 5 SEPTEMBER 1970, 1LT SMITH DEPARTED THE 2ND BDE AREA (THE HIGHLANDER PAD), AN KHE, RVN ENROUTE TO LZ UPLIFT, AFTER PICKING UP HIS PASSENGER (CPT HULING, ARTY LNO FOR THE 2ND INF BDE). SHORTLY AFTER TAKEOFF HE WAS INFORMED OF TURBULENT WIND CONDITIONS AND WAS ADVISED THAT HE SHOULD TAKE A DIFFERENT ROUTE THAN THE ONE THAT HAD BEEN PLANNED. THE AIRCRAFT WAS FOUND IN A LOCATION THAT INDICATED 1LT SMITH DID NOT FOLLOW THE ROUTE SUGGESTED. NO MESSAGES WERE RECEIVED FROM 1LT SMITH THAT WOULD INDICATE THAT HE WAS HAVING ANY PROBLEMS UNTIL HIS MAYDAY CALL AT 1021 HOURS. IN THE MAYDAY CALL, 1LT SMITH SAID THAT HE WAS SOUTH OF LZ UPLIFT WHEN HE WAS ACTUALLY SOUTH OF LZ HARDTIMES, 25 KILOMETERS SHORT (WEST) OF HIS REPORTED POSITION. THE NATURE OF HIS EMERGENCY WAS NEVER RECEIVED BY THE PERSON WHO MONITORED THE CALL, DUE TO A LOSS OF COMMUNICATIONS. THE CRASH SCENE WAS NOT FOUND UNTIL EIGHT HOURS LATER AT APPROXIMATELY 1830 HOURS. PHOTOGRAPHS WERE TAKEN AT THE ACCIDENT SCENE, BUT DUE TO THE FAILING LIGHT, THEY WERE NOT USABLE. DUE TO THE SHORT TIME BEFORE DARKNESS AND FOR TACTICAL REASONS, THE AIRCRAFT AND OTHER EVIDENCE WERE RECOVERED.\\
CPT Huling reported afterwards that the aircraft engine seized and that 1LT Smith piloted the aircraft into auto rotation while searching for a clearing in which to land. Smith landed the LOH 6A aircraft safely, but hard, breaking the skid on the pilot's side. The aircraft was still powering down and the blade turning when Huling exited the aircraft for fear of fire or enemy detection. Though Huling exited in a low profile to the ground his helmet was hit by the blade and threw him from the aircraft where he remained unconscious for several hours. When he regained consciousness in near dark he discovered the body of the pilot. Huling hid in an area near the crash site waiting for help. He later signaled searching aircraft with pen flares. From William W. Huling, email@example.com May 2001.
This record was last updated on 05/25/2001
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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021
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