Helicopter OH-58A 68-16803


Information on U.S. Army helicopter OH-58A tail number 68-16803
The Army purchased this helicopter 0170
Total flight hours at this point: 00000426
Date: 12/04/1970
Incident number: 701204171ACD Accident case number: 701204171 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: 2S13 FA 23 ARTY
The station for this helicopter was Ban Me Thuot in South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 4 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 3
costing 295102
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

Crew Members:
P WO1 BEHRENS PETER CLAUS KIA
OB CPT HEIMBOLD JAMES REEVE KIA
P CW2 MATTHEWS KERMIT LESLIE KIA

Passengers and/or other participants:
SGM MACHRISTIE ANDREW, AR, PX, KIA


Accident Summary:

 AIRCRAFT DEPARTED IFFV ARTILLERY HELIPAD, AT NHA TRANG, AT APPROXIMATELY 14:09 HOURS (LOCAL) ON 4 DECEMBER 1970. AFTER TAKE-OFF THE PILOT PROCEEDED VIA HIGHWAY 1 NINH HOA THEN VIA HIGHWAY 21 ENROUTE TO BAN ME THUOT THROUGH THE DUC MY PASS. THE WEATHER IN THE DUC MY PASS HAD BEEN MARGINAL TO IFR ALL DAY AS REPORTED BY PILOTS OF THE 48TH ASSAULT HELICOPTER COMPANY. FROM DEPARTURE AT NHA TRANG TILL ENTERING THE DUC MY PASS AND SUBSEQUENT CRASH, THE PILOT AT NO TIME USED FLIGHT FOLLOWING OR ARTILLERY ADVISORY SERVICES FOR WEATHER PIREPS OR ARTILLERY MISSIONS. THE WEATHER IN THE DUC MY PASS JUST PRIOR TO THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT WAS REPORTED TO BE A CEILING OF LESS THAN 100 FEET AND VISIBILITY OF LESS THAN 1/4 OF A MILE WITH RAIN, HAZE, AND CLOUDS. SHORTLY AFTER 1430 HOURS (LOCAL) ON 4 DECEMBER 1970 THE AIRCRAFT WAS HEARD RETURNING FROM THE BAN ME THUOT AREA TOWARDS NINH HOA. AT THIS TIME THE AIRCRAFT COULD NOT BE SEEN DUE TO THE POOR WEATHER CONDITIONS IN THE PASS. THE EXACT LOCATION WHERE THE AIRCRAFT TURNED AROUND COULD NOT BE DETERMINED, HOWEVER, WITH THE TIME OF FLIGHT AND DISTANCE TRAVELED AT A PROBABLE AIRSPEED INDICATED, THE TURN AROUND POINT WAS WITHIN 5 NAUTICAL MILES OF THE IMPACT AREA. FOLLOWING THE PILOTS DECISION TO RETURN, HE WAS UNDER IFR CONDITIONS, AND AT APPROXIMATELY 1435 HOURS, AT A HEADING OF APPROXIMATELY 035, AN APPROXIMATE ALTITUDE OF 2400 FEET AND 200 METERS LEFT OF HIGHWAY 21, THE AIRCRAFT STRUCK THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. AT THE POINT OF IMPACT THE LEFT SKID CONTACTED THE GROUND FIRST AT APPROXIMATELY A 20 ANGLE CAUSING THE AIRCRAFT TO ROLL AT WHICH TIME THE NOSE OF THE AIRCRAFT, LEFT PILOTS AREA, AND MAIN ROTOR BLADE MADE CONTACT WITH THE GROUND. WITH THE IMPACT DEPTH OF AIRCRAFT COMPONENTS SUCH AS THE LEFT SKID (TWO FEET), THE NOSE MOUNTED RADIO APX-72 (14"), LEFT PILOTS ARMOR PANEL (1"), PILOT TUBE (16") AND MAIN ROTOR BLADES (6) IT CAN BE SEEN THAT THE AIRCRAFT WAS NOSE LOW AND IN A POWER ON CONDITION WITH 50-70 KNOTS OF AIRSPEED. FROM THIS POINT THE AIRCRAFT SLID ALONG THE GROUND NOSE FIRST CUTTING AN ARC WHICH CAN BE SEEN IN ENCLOSED PHOTOGRAPHS. ALMOST IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING IMPACT THE POWER BEING APPLIED BY THE TAILROTOR AND THE 'G' FORCES OF IMPACT CAUSED THE TAIL BOOM SECTION TO TARE OFF MOVING TO THE RIGHT AND FORWARD, AFT OF THE TAILBOOM ATTACHING POINTS. THE TAIL SECTION CAME TO REST APPROXIMATELY 30 FEET AWAY FROM THE POINT OF IMPACT BELOW THE WRECKAGE PATH, WITH ONLY MINOR STRUCTURAL DAMAGE SUSTAINED UPON GROUND CONTACT. AS THE AIRCRAFT CONTINUED TO SLIDE ACROSS THE GROUND, THE UNDERSIDE OF THE AIRCRAFT AND AIRCRAFT COMPONENTS WERE TORN LOOSE BY THE DECELERATING FORCE. AS CAN BE SEEN BY THE WRECKAGE DIAGRAM THE AIRCRAFT MAINTAINED CONSIDERABLE MOMENTUM IN A NOSE FORWARD CONDITION AND A RELATIVELY STRAIGHT LINE FOR APPROXIMATELY 150 FEET. THE DECELERATING FORCES WERE QUITE EXCESSIVE AS CAN BE SEEN BY THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE WRECKAGE PARTS AND SCATTERED HUMAN REMAINS. AT THIS POINT THE FORCES OF GRAVITY AND THE REDUCTION OF FORWARD SPEED CAUSED THE REMAINING PORTION OF THE AIRCRAFT TO SLIDE DOWN THE HILL, AT THE SAME TIME THE HEAVIER NOSE PORTION WITH THE DISPLACED TRANSMISSION AND ENGINE ROTATED DOWNWARD AND TO THE RIGHT SO THAT THE WRECKAGE CAME TO A HALT 190 FEET FROM THE POINT OF IMPACT ANGLED DOWNHILL AND POINTING APPROXIMATELY 120 AWAY FROM THE DIRECTION OF IMPACT. AT THIS TIME THE FIRE WHICH HAD INITIALLY STARTED WHEN THE FUEL CELLS RUPTURED ON IMPACT CAUSING FUEL TO BE SPRAYED OVER THE MAJOR PORTION OF THE WRECKAGE PATH, BURNT ITSELF OUT CAUSING EXTENSIVE DAMAGE TO THE AFT PASSENGER AREA AND AVIONICS COMPARTMENT. CHARING WAS NOTED ON THE TAIL BOOM, PIECES OF AIRCRAFT SKIN AND SURROUNDING GROUND AREA INDICATING AN IMMEDIATE FUEL FIRE UPON IMPACT, HOWEVER, NO APPARENT FIRE DAMAGE WAS DONE TO COMPONENTS WHICH WERE MOUNTED ON THE 'I' BEAM ABOVE THE PASSENGER COMPARTMENT. AT THE TIME OF IMPACT THE KOREAN PERSONNEL LOCATED AT AN OUTPOST JUST SOUTH OF THE ROAD AND APPROXIMATELY 1000 METERS FROM THE ACCIDENT SITE, HEARD THE AIRCRAFT IMPACT. UNABLE TO DETERMINE, DUE TO THE SOUNDS HEARD, IF AN AIRCRAFT HAD CRASHED OR A GUNSHIP WAS FIRING, DELAYED INVESTIGATION FOR APPROXIMATELY 30 MINUTES. AFTER THIS TIME A PATROL WAS SENT OUT TO INVESTIGATE AND FOUND AN AIRCRAFT HAD CRASHED AND THAT ALL PERSONS ON BOARD WERE KILLED AND THE AIRCRAFT WAS DESTROYED. THE BODIES WERE TAKEN DOWN THE ROK COMPOUND AND LATER THAT EVENING AN AMERICAN ADVISOR TRANSPORTED THE 4 BODIES TO THE PROVINCE HEADQUARTERS WHERE THEY WERE MEDIVACED TO CAM RANH BAY ON THE MORNING OF 5 DECEMBER 1970. DUE TO THE INCLEMENT WEATHER CONDITIONS AT THE TIME OF AND FOLLOWING THE ACCIDENT, MEDICAL, RECOVERY, AND INVESTIGATING PERSONNEL WERE UNABLE TO REACH THE SITE UNTIL THE FOLLOWING MORNING.\\

This record was last updated on 09/20/1998


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Date posted on this site: 09/23/2017


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