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 Knob. Knob squeezed his mike button which allowed everyone in the aircraft to hear the captain over Knobs mike 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 Knob to tell the captain that it was okay. Knob hollered over the helicopter noise to him and they loaded up.

As soon as we got airborne, I gave the controls to Knob and he flew the whole way. At An Khe, I encouraged him to make the landing to the Golf Course and 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 Knob keyed his mike. The captain shook Knobs hand and told him that it was the best flight he had ever been on.
AM Def Ser Cam
Last modified: Tuesday March 14th, 2023