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stoker [2011/01/01 14:02]
historian
stoker [2011/01/01 14:06]
historian
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 We were lucky enough to make several more at sea rescues, 8 all total during my SAR operation on the North SAR station. In November that year we were relieved by another rescue detachment, from our home squadron and we returned to CONUS. I was very proud of my entire crew they had worked and performed above and beyond what anyone could have ever expected. We were given a hero’s welcome back home. We were lucky enough to make several more at sea rescues, 8 all total during my SAR operation on the North SAR station. In November that year we were relieved by another rescue detachment, from our home squadron and we returned to CONUS. I was very proud of my entire crew they had worked and performed above and beyond what anyone could have ever expected. We were given a hero’s welcome back home.
  
-Webmaster'​s Note: The following ​page continues the Pilot'​s story but does not apply to the USS King (DLG-10) history.+<box 80% center round blue> ​Webmaster'​s Note: The following continues the Pilot'​s story but does not apply to the USS King (DLG-10) history. ​</​box>​ 
 + 
 +My return home started another new beginning for me. The navy had been working with the Kaman Aircraft factory and agreed that we needed a helicopter for rescue with more power. The new plans were to do a modification to the UH-2A/B and make a twin engine helicopter that would be designated the UH-2C Sea Spirit. I had now received my promoted to Lt Cdr. and my new assignment was to be the fleet project officer for the development for the new UH-2C. I made many trips from HC-1 at NAF Imperial Beach to the main Kaman factory in Bloomfield, Connecticut. In early 1967, I went TDY to NAS Pax River, the Navy Test Center, where they had placed the first prototype UH-2C. I was to be the fleet pilot to fly with the test pilots through a Board of Inspection Survey, (BIS) which would qualify the helicopter for fleet operations. My first couple of test flights that were flown with the Navy test pilots, were unbelievable. One of the test pilots started one of the engines while I was still doing the pre-flight on the rotor head. After that I went to the Capt. in charge of the BIS program and related my experience with his test pilots, and told him I refused to fly with them. The next day he called me into his office and gave me a letter designating me the official test pilot for the entire program. Two weeks later I stopped the program as I had been out flying a profile flight and developed severe tail rotor vibrations. When I returned to the flight line and inspected the tail rotor the bearings had disintegrated. They brought the engineers in from the Kaman and agreed that it was a major problem and a new tail rotor would have to be developed. I returned to HC-1 and Kaman began the development of a new tail rotor. It took almost 3 months to get this completed. In the mean time the navy had decided they wanted to deploy the first Detachment on the USS Ranger, which was to deploy in November 1967. They had also designated me to be the Officer-in-charge of that detachment. 
 + 
 +In early June of that year The UH-2C program was back on track and I went back to Pax River to finish the BIS trials. During this test phase, I was on a night flight, flying to Washington, DC where we would fly around the beltway. I was flying at 1000 when I got a transmission oil warning light. This meant I was losing my transmission oil and I had to land immediately. I saw a lighted area below me that appeared to be a parking lot and I made an approach to the area where I saw a clear area and set the helo down. 
 + 
 +Once we were down and I shut the helo down. I discovered I had landed at the Naval Dock Yard, where naval engineers test and design ship hauls. We had to have the maintenance people come up the next day and repair a faulty oil line that had broken and we flew the helo back to NAS Pax River. How lucky can one be, to land at a Naval Installation,​ when you have had an emergency in a major city!!!  
 + 
 +It was near mid July when I completed all profile flights and agreed with Kaman that the helicopter was ready for fleet operations. Kaman had three helo’s near completion and I need them as soon as possible because the USS Ranger was starting their pre-cruise training and they wanted me onboard to train with them. Kaman had the first two helo’s ready around the end of August and I took the three best qualified pilots of my new DET and we went back to pick them up and ferry them to Imperial Beach. We spent three days at Kaman checking my new pilots out and headed off on our cross country flight. Because of bad weather it took us three days to get to Dallas, Texas. We had one day to meet a big ceremony at planned at NAF Imperial Beach, so we were pushing as fast as we could. We had refueled at El Paso, Texas and were en-route to David-Monthan AFB, at Tucson, AZ flying about 1000 ft above the terrain. WE had to start a climb to fly over Mt. Galiuco, my copilot was flying and as we reached approximately 5000 feet the helicopter went into a violent vibration. I grabbed the controls and told him I had control and went into an immediate auto rotation. As we began our decent and I slowed the air speed to 60 knots the vibration became less. I advised the other helo we were auto rotating and going to land as soon as possible. There was a cattle corral and a watering tank with a clear area and I set the helo down there and shut it down immediately. I advised the other helo to contact Flight Service and alert them of our emergency landing and would advise results later. As we started to inspect the rotor system my crew chief could see our rotor brake disc had cracked and started to separate. Here we are out in the mountains of Arizona and about 100 miles from Tucson, what do we do now?? After discussing the problem the crew chief recommended we remove the rotor disc, which was not difficult to do. We figured that was the best solution, but we always started the engines with the rotors brake on. This meant when the engine started, the blades would start to turn. In order to prevent the helo from going into a ground vibration (known by helo pilots as ground resonance) the rotors had to be turned up very rapidly. My crew chief acted as the rotor brake by holing the end of one rotor until I had the engine running and once again we had the helo in flying condition. We took off and everything worked okay with no vibrations. We flew on to Davis-Monthan AFB where we could talk to our home base and let them know the homecoming would have to be delayed for one day. The next day we flew both helo’s on to home base where they had a big ceremony for the arrival of the first two UH-2C helicopters to be operational in the fleet. We arrived by a big welcome from our home Squadron HC-1 and the entire Air Station.  
 + 
 +Additional Note: The crack in the rotor brake disc was now a risk problem and a new disc had to be developed. Prior to the arrival of the new rotor brake discs, one of the UH-2C’s from the USS Kitty Hawk was on a flight from Clark AFB to Manila, PI. crashed and all onboard were killed. It was determined in the investigation that the rotor brake disc failed. Pieces flew into the rotor system, causing a main rotor blade to separate from the helo. Helicopters do not fly with one blade missing. It is called an out of balance situation and the whole rotor system departs the craft!!!!!!!  
 + 
 +Within the next few weeks we had to deploy on the USS Ranger (CVA-61), which was home ported at the Alameda Naval Station, in San Francisco. In order to make the full deployment I still needed one more UH-2C, which the following week I flew back to Kaman and picked it up. We were being pressured to make this all happen, so to try to expedite I made a record flight time from the Kaman to Imperial Beach. I drew a straight line on the map and flew as close to that route as possible and still find refueling stations. We made the flight in 19.1 hours of flight time, spending only one night in Amarillo. TX. We made 3 training deployments on CVA-61 out of Alameda and made plans for out departure in November 1967. I took the family to Wyoming for a 2 week vacation prior to my leaving for a 9 month cruise. While we were there we received a phone call from the Adoption agency we had been working with to try to adopt a child. They had baby girl for us but we had to pick her up in 2 days. We left almost immediately and collected out new daughter Darrete.  
 + 
 +Within approximately a week we flew the 3 UH-2C’s to Alameda and flew on board the USS Ranger, which would be our new home for the next 9 months. The day we left, once we were out to sea the Fighter Squadrons were to fly their planes onboard. We set up for flight ops. And our main job was to be the helo plane guard in a flight standby position. This was maintained on the right side (starboard) side of the ship in a race horse pattern flying at approximately 500 ft. We received a Squadron of F-4’s and we had two squadrons of new (first deployment) of A-7’s to fly aboard next. As they started to arrive one at approximately 20 miles from us lost his engine in flight and the pilot had to eject. 
 + 
 +I was flying at the time so they gave me a vector to his position where I rescued him and returned him to the ship. First day out, first rescue on the cruise and first rescue for the new UH-2C which performed remarkably well. Because of this incident they decided to not bring the remaining squadron onboard until the next day. The next day I again set up in the plane guard position and the other squadron started to arrive. Again, we received another A-7 lost an engine about 70 miles from the ship and the pilot had to eject. We were given a vectored to his position and the second rescue was completed. We were now on our way, next stop Hawaii, which took about one week to get there and on the way we conducted may training flights with out incident. 
 + 
 +After about a week in Hawaii we were briefed on what our future schedule would be once we arrive on station in the Tonkin Gulf. We had nights flights scheduled for a training exercise before we departed the Hawaii area. The first night I had taken one of my junior pilots with me for a night training flight. The ship had scheduled the A-7’s for practice night landings and as we around in our race horse plane guard pattern, I saw one plane coming in and as it was landing there was a bright flash. The pilot had come to low and hit the back of the carrier with his landing gear. As the aircraft slid up the flight deck the pilot tried to take off. The aircraft lifted off the deck but lost control and it began to roll to the right and as it passed in front of the control tower the pilot ejected. It shot him across the deck in front of the tower and he landed in the water on the starboard side of the ship. Several crewmen saw him hit the water and threw lights in the water to mark his position. I received the emergency call that we had a pilot in the water but no sighting of him. I made an approach to the lights, now aft of the ship and began to search for him with my landing lights. I spotted his hard hat with reflective tape on it and it was floating just under the water. As I checked around, I spotted him floating in the water with his water survival vest inflated. I alerted my crewmen to send down one crewman to assist getting him in the rescue collar. This took us about 15 minutes to finally get him in the rescue collar and hoisted onboard. We flew onboard and they had a medical team waiting to get him to the ships hospital. Later, we found out he was not injured at all and had survived with out a scratch! He was an Air Force exchange pilot and damn lucky to be alive! Later I had a chance to talk with him and I ask him if he had lost his hard hat when he hit the water? He told me no, he had taken it off because it was wet and bothered him. What he didn’t realize was, I found him, because I found the hard hat from the reflection off the reflective tape. He told me he did not realize how important it was and he would never take it off if anything like that ever happened again!  
 + 
 +The trip to the Gulf took us to Yokosuka, Japan then Cubi Point in the Philippines arriving on station in the Tonkin Gulf first of December, 1967. The line period was for 30 days and they passed very rapidly. However, our luck changed the second week there. I had just completed a 2 hour flight in the plane guard position and landed to refuel and change flight crews. The next launch started in about one hour and I had gone down to the Ward Room (Officers Dinning Room) to get something to eat when I heard over the loud speaker, helo in the water! helo in the water! I ran towards the flight deck to see what was happening and in doing so I hit my knee on a knee knocker (a metal ridge you must step over in the passage ways). When I arrived on deck my helo (the first one I flew) had gone into the water along side of the ship and lost at sea. My crew were able to get out and one of our Destroyer ships picked them up. Everyone was okay except me and I had a knot on my knee the size of an egg. The Dr. checked it and said the only way to fix a bruise like that is put my leg in a cast. So for the next month I was out of the flying business and the Aircraft Controlling Officer put me to work in Pri-fly (This is the tower where you control all flights on the carrier). The ship returned to Cubi Point in time for the New Year, I got my cast off and was able to barrow a single engine UH-2A/B from the helo detachment at Cubi Point for our next line period. 
 + 
 +We were back on station around early February 1968 and had just about completed our 30 days on line when we received word the USS Pueblo (A U.S. Navy Spy Ship) had been captured by the North Koreans. We were given orders to proceed north to the Sea of Japan, for what we did not know??? We were there for another 60 days, basically doing nothing. During this time we had a crew for a new squadron Atsugi, Japan fly out and pick up our borrowed helo the UH-2A/B. They flew it off the ship and en-route to Atsugi now over Japan, they had an engine failure and landed the helo in a rice paddy. No one was injured and eventually the trucked the helo to Atsugi. We were finally given a port call and spent 7 days in Sasebo, Japan. From there we went on to Yokosuka, Japan and picked up a new UH-2C that was brought out to us on the USS Kitty Hawk, now we were back to our full complement of 3 UH-2C helicopters. 
 + 
 +We did not arrive back in the Tonkin Gulf until about July 1968. During our time there we also was in company with the USS Kitty Hawk and they also had the second UH-2C detachment on board. During one of their night operations a good friend Scott Milner was flying and they had a bad accident by flying into the water. They all got out okay and were picked up by the night plane guard Destroyer. Scott had a very bad back injury and they had to fly him to Cubi Point hospital. The next day the USS Kitty Hawk  
 +did not have a helo in an up status for their flight operations. They called us and ask if we could provide a helo and crew to standby for a large Alpha Strike launch and a recovery cycle. I had a spare helo up, so I took it over to be the rescue helo. 
 + 
 +The launches were completed and during the recovery flights a F-4 came in for landing and hit the deck to hard and the left wheel sheered off but they were able to get air born. The ship sent him up to refuel with a tanker, bring the remaining flight recoveries. Once all other aircraft were on deck the ship rigged the emergency barrier, (a very large net for a plane to fly into in an emergency) The plans were to have the pilot fly the F-4 into the net. On the approach he got a little low and the stub of the left gear caught one of the landing wires. This threw the plane into a left skid as it hit the net and the plane started over the side of the flight deck. As this happened the pilot hit command eject and the pilot was ejected out of the plane. The rear seat did not eject and the plane ended up hanging from the net with its nose dangling in the water. I spotted the pilot in the water and came to a hover over him and he gave me a thumbs up that he was okay. We lowered the rescue collar to him and hoisted him onboard. Once inside my crewman told me he was in shock and difficult to control. I alerted the ship to let me land ASAP. They had a medical crew standing by and as I landed he jumped form the helo and had to held by the medical people. What I didn’t know was he had a broken foot and the jump almost caused him to lose his foot. We had to take off and rescue the other pilot because he did not like hanging in the net and jumped into the water. What was normally a routine day turned out to be very exciting with two more rescues to our credit. 
 + 
 +We had completed this line period and was on our last 30 days before we would be going home. The ship received a call from the South SAR ship and ask if we had a pilot that was qualified and could be brought over to there ship. The Pilot and Officer in Charge of the Detachment had become ill, which meant they had no rescue helo available. The operation officer called me asking if we had a qualified pilot to do this job, I told him yes! I was a SAR rescue pilot and I am qualified, the next thing I know I am on my way to the South SAR ship. After arriving, I was briefed by the ships commanding officer of the days scheduled strike operations and where rescues may be required. I had been onboard for approximately 3 hours when over the loud speaker came, general quarters, general quarters, prepare to launch the helo. I received a quick brief that a pilot had been shot down north east of Vinh. We launched and were given a vector towards Vietnam east of Vinh, I was advised the pilot was down in a mountain area and we were to cross the beach at a point where we would be escorted inland by Air Force A-1’s. We met up with the A-1’s and as we proceeded inland, they would fly crosses under me as protection from any ground fire. At about 25 miles from the beach, we picked up the emergency beeper from the downed pilot. Minutes later we were talking to him on the emergency radio and he advised us he had many enemy troops near him but he was hiding in some deep brush. The area was dense Forrest with a high canopy of tree tops above his position. We made one fly by and set up for an approach above the trees where we had marked his position. As I started the approach near the top of the trees, fire tracers were coming up through the trees from every where. I waved off and headed down the mountain made a fast climbing turn and told the A-1’s we had heavy fire from the area. In that we could not see below the trees we were not sure where the enemy troops were located. It was then we got a call from the downed pilot and he told us to get out he was surrounded and he was destroying his radio. We returned to the ship much disappointed that we had not been able to rescue the pilot. I never did find out his name but I am sure he was one of our POW’s. The next day the pilot was well enough to assume his flying duties and I returned to the carrier with my new experience behind me. It is after one of these experiences you look back and thank God you are still alive!