posted on Nov, 20 2020 @ 02:15 AM
The first time I crashed I wasn't even flying but was a passenger in an “A” Model Huey. It was a training flight and I was along as an observer.
The instructor and the student pilot were doing a practice auto rotation to a full stop at one of the auxiliary training airfields. After initiation
of the simulated engine failure and the initial entry into the auto-rotation maneuver the rotor speed was bleeding off and getting to low so the
instructor pulled the nose up to a slight flare to increase the rotor RPM. The instructor and the student were so tunnel visioned upon the rotor RPM
that the airspeed bled off to a point where now we were on the ragged edge of the dead man zone/curve for a helicopter. I had said, “Airspeed “
over the intercom twice but the speed reduction was so quick the only thing that could have been done was to roll the throttle back up for powered
flight; unfortunately that was not done but the instructor did take over the controls of the bird saying something along the lines of, “Watch this
We were just about 200 feet with low rotor RPM and falling like a rock as I tightened my seat belt/shoulder harness in preparation of what I figured
was going to be a very hard landing or possibly a crash that would make the evening news . As the pavement rushed towards us I was worried briefly
about the impact and the rotor blade coming through the cockpit and decapitating the instructor and student . I was far enough back that unless the
transmission was totally torn from it's mounts the rotor blades would have a problem getting to me; I hoped.
Our moment of Mother Earth smiting us came all to quickly and right before impact I shut my eyes which I will never do again. The bird hit the
pavement and bounced high enough to come down on it's nose and have the tips of the rotor blades destroy themselves on the hard surface. The Huey
thankfully did not roll over due to the torque of the rotor blades as many helicopters do, which was a small miracle, as far as I was concerned.
After the initial impact I opened my eyes to see the bird bouncing down the runway on it's nose. I swore right then I would never shut my eyes before
a crash again and I kept that promise to myself no matter the situation which served me well especially when I was an aircraft commander in a war