174th Assault
Helicopter Company

Brand New Dolphin on Fire

This is Dolphin 200 (69-15200), a brand new UH1-H that arrived in the company in April 1970 with two hours on it. It was the personal aircraft of the company commander, Maj. Fred Blackburn, Dolphin 6. On 8 Aug 70, Harold Alvord was flying as the aircraft commander (AC) and Fred Thompson was the copilot. They were flying as air mission commander (AMC) for a combat assault of six Dolphin slicks and two Shark gunships in the area north of Duc Pho known as the Bataan pennisula. There were six members of the 11th Light Infantry Brigade (LIB) on board in addition to the crew of four. As they made a low pass to mark the landing zone (LZ) with smoke, they took automatic weapons fire from the area and took several hits in the aircraft. An explosion was heard up front in the aircraft (they suspect the battery may have been hit) and the interior began filling with smoke. At the same time they had a complete hydraulic failure, probably from hits in the engine/transmission area. With a cockpit full of smoke, a fire in the back, and no hydraulics, it took both pilots to control the aircraft and to bring it to a rather hard but safe landing. Everyone got out of the helicopter without injury and were evacuated by another Dolphin. Notice the skids are spread and you can tell from the angle of the tail boom that it has been broken during the landing. The aircraft was totally destroyed by the fire. Photo by Fred Thompson, 1970.