9. A Good Flight By Mel Bailey
As a maintenance officer I was afforded the chance to fly around the II Corps area, single pilot. The Huey was authorized to be flown with just one pilot but that was rare. In combat flying we always tried to have two pilots as well as a gunner and crew chief on either side manning machine guns. One time I was flying a replacement helicopter back to An Khe with one of the line crew members after I had flown a badly shot up helicopter down to Phu Hiep. This fellow was a big likeable sort, usually unkempt, and he had been filling in as a crew chief. He had also been flying whenever he could and he was getting pretty good. We had also picked up a crew chief because we had been short of one any way and a gunner to replace the one wounded in the first helicopter. In short we looked like a regular mission ship. On the Huey only the right seat has a complete set of controls and normally the co‑pilot would fly there and the aircraft commander would take the left seat. As the only bonafide pilot I was in the right seat and this big fellow, nicknamed
Knob, was in the Aircraft Commander's left seat.
Of course, I would let Knob fly once we were airborne and on top of that we picked up passengers and took them to an intermediate stop at Qui Nhon. At Qui Nhon, while our passengers were disembarking, a Special Forces Captain came up to the Aircraft Commander's window and there sat
Knobsqueezed his mike button which allowed everyone in the aircraft to hear the captain over
Knobsmike boom on his helmet. The Captain asked if it would be alright to take Vietnamese nationals on this flight and I simply keyed my mike and told
Knobto tell the captain that it was okay.
Knobhollered over the helicopter noise to him and they loaded up.
As soon as we got airborne, I gave the controls to
Knoband he flew the whole way. At An Khe, I encouraged him to make the landing to the
Golf Courseand I only took over at the last moment when he started having directional heading problems with the tail rotor pedals. As the passengers were disembarking, the same Special Forces Captain came up to the window and once again
Knobkeyed his mike. The captain shook
Knobshand and told him that it was the best flight he had ever been on.
|Last modified: Tuesday March 14th, 2023|