174th Assault
Helicopter Company

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Dolphin 759 After Rolling Down a Hill

The three photos below are of Dolphin 69-16759 after being sling-loaded back to Chu Lai by a Chinook. This helicopter was making a "pinnacle approach" to the resupply pad at the fire support base (FSB) at Hill 411 (coordinates BS 540730). According to Mel Lutgring, 174th crewchief, the "rumor" was that Dolphin 759's crewchief was in the left pilot's seat, the copilot in the right seat, and the aircraft commander was getting some "gunner time" in the left gunner's well. (That rumor, incidentally, has not been confirmed. It might be only a rumor) In any event, the aircraft landed too "hot" and short of the pinnacle, and after landing short (polite term for crashing when it slammed into the hillside) it rolled down the hill for some distance. The 16th Aviation Group Commander, LTC (P) Jim Leslie, was in the area and was able to land at Hill 411's pad soon enough after the crash to actually climb down to the Dolphin and shut down the still-running engine by cutting off the main fuel switch. The short-shaft between the engine and transmission had been severed during the crash sequence, when the main rotor blades broke after hitting the hillside, and luckily the engine was no longer providing power to the rotor system. The pilot was trapped for a short time in his seat, hanging upside down in the helicopter after it came to a rest partially inverted, but was soon extracted from the aircraft with the help of the crewchief. This was NOT a good day for the aircraft commander of this Dolphin (who shall here remain nameless). (Photo by Mel Lutgring, Chu Lai, Sep 1971)

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