174th Assault
Helicopter Company


The Loss of Dolphin 235

Dolphin 66-16235 was delivered to the Army from The Bell Helicopter Company in April 1967 and arrived in the 174th in early June 1967 with zero hours on the airframe. This is the helicopter that carried the original Dolphin nose art designed and painted on it by W01 Richard Machina. Just two months in the company, and with only 278 hours on the airframe, Dolphin 235 was landing to this hilltop observation post in the worst of conditions: at night in heavy rain and high winds, with large boulders scattered over the entire hilltop. The high winds pushed the tail rotor into a boulder as the pilot was attempting to hover. The tail rotor separated from the helicopter, taking part of the vertical fin with it, and the pilot lost control. As the helicopter started spinning, the main rotor blade also contacted a boulder, resulting in the entire mast, rotor assembly, and blades separating from the aircraft as well. The helicopter rolled partly down the hill after the main rotor and mast separated. The LZ where the pilot first lost his tail rotor is at the top of the hill in the photos below. Both main rotor blades, still attachecd to the hub, are visible at the lower-center of the first photo. In the second photo you can barely see the Dolphin nose art on the front of the aircraft. W01 Jim McDaniel flew into the LZ later that same evening, about 30 minutes later, and evacuated the crew - shaken up but basically uninjured. This observation post is south of Duc Pho several miles, overlooking highway one, in an area referred to as the "rice bowl." (Photos taken the next morning by Jim McDaniel, July 1967.) You can see additional photos of Dolphin 235 following the crash on Sam Davis' photos page HERE.