Tag Archives: Helicopter Pilot

14 November 1965: Medal of Honor, Major Bruce Perry Crandall, United States Army

Major Bruce Perry Crandall, United States Army
Major Bruce Perry Crandall, United States Army

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to

MAJOR BRUCE P. CRANDALL 
UNITED STATES ARMY
for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Rank and Organization: Major, U.S. Army, Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

Place and dates: Landing Zone X-Ray, Ia Drang Valley, Republic of Vietnam, 14 November 1965.

Place and date of birth: Olympia, Washington, 1933.

Lieutenant Colonel Bruce P. Crandall, United States Army (Retired), received the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House, Washington, D.C., 26 February 2008. (U.S. Army)

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Major Bruce P. Crandall distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as a Flight Commander in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). On 14 November 1965, his flight of sixteen helicopters was lifting troops for a search and destroy mission from Plei Me, Vietnam, to Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley. On the fourth troop lift, the airlift began to take enemy fire, and by the time the aircraft had refueled and returned for the next troop lift, the enemy had Landing Zone X-Ray targeted. As Major Crandall and the first eight helicopters landed to discharge troops on his fifth troop lift, his unarmed helicopter came under such intense enemy fire that the ground commander ordered the second flight of eight aircraft to abort their mission. As Major Crandall flew back to Plei Me, his base of operations, he determined that the ground commander of the besieged infantry battalion desperately needed more ammunition. Major Crandall then decided to adjust his base of operations to Artillery Firebase Falcon in order to shorten the flight distance to deliver ammunition and evacuate wounded soldiers. While medical evacuation was not his mission, he immediately sought volunteers and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, led the two aircraft to Landing Zone X-Ray. Despite the fact that the landing zone was still under relentless enemy fire, Major Crandall landed and proceeded to supervise the loading of seriously wounded soldiers aboard his aircraft. Major Crandall’s voluntary decision to land under the most extreme fire instilled in the other pilots the will and spirit to continue to land their own aircraft, and in the ground forces the realization that they would be resupplied and that friendly wounded would be promptly evacuated. This greatly enhanced morale and the will to fight at a critical time. After his first medical evacuation, Major Crandall continued to fly into and out of the landing zone throughout the day and into the evening. That day he completed a total of 22 flights, most under intense enemy fire, retiring from the battlefield only after all possible service had been rendered to the Infantry battalion. His actions provided critical resupply of ammunition and evacuation of the wounded. Major Crandall’s daring acts of bravery and courage in the face of an overwhelming and determined enemy are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Major Bruce Campbell's UH-1D Huey departing LZ X-Ray during the Battle of Ia Drang, 14 November 1965. (U.S. Army)
Major Bruce Campbell’s Bell UH-1D Iroquois, “Ancient Serpent Six,” departing Landing Zone X-Ray during the Battle of Ia Drang, 14 November 1965. (U.S. Army)

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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11 August 1986

John Trevor Egginton, Chief Pilot, Westland Helicopters. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight test Engineers)
John Trevor Egginton, Chief Pilot, Westland Helicopters. (Photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, Test and Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers)

11 August 1986: A modified factory demonstration Westland Lynx AH.1 helicopter, civil registration G-LYNX, piloted by Chief Test Pilot John Trevor Egginton and Flight Test Engineer Derek J. Clews, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Absolute Record for Speed for helicopters over a straight 15/25 km course with an average speed of 400.87 kilometers per hour (249.09 miles per hour) over a measured 15 kilometer (9.32 miles) course near Glastonbury on the Somerset Levels and Moors, Southwest England.¹ ²

The helicopter was equipped with experimental BERP main rotor blades and two Rolls Royce Gem 60 turboshaft engines with digital electronic fuel control and water-methanol injection, producing 1,345 shaft horsepower, each. The engines’ exhausts were modified to provide 600 pounds of thrust. The horizontal tail plane and vertical fins from a Westland WG.30 were used to increase longitudinal stability and unload the tail rotor. In an effort to reduce aerodynamic drag, items such as steps, antennas and windshield wipers were removed.

Westland WG.13 Lynx G-LYNX, c/n 102.

During the speed runs, the main rotor blade tips reached a speed of 0.97 Mach.

Four passes over the course were made at an altitude of 500 feet (150 meters). The results of the two best successive passes were averaged. This set both a record for helicopters in the 3,000 to 4,500 kilogram weight class, and the absolute record for helicopters in general. Thirty-one years later, these official speed records still stand.

Another Westland AH.1 Lynx, flown by then Westland Chief Pilot Leonard Roy Moxham and Michael Ball, had set two FAI World Records for Speed, 20 and 22 June 1972. Flying over a straight 15/25 kilometer course, the Lynx averaged 321.74 kilometers per hour (199.92 miles per hour).³ Two days later, the Lynx flew a closed 100 kilometer circuit at an average speed of 318.50 kilometers per hour (197.91 miles per hour).⁴ Both of these records were for helicopters in the 3,000–4,500 kilogram weight class.

Westland Lynx AH.1, G-LYNX. This is the World's Fastest Helicopter. (Westland)
Westland Lynx AH.1, G-LYNX. This is the World’s Fastest Helicopter. (Westland)

Westland WG.13 c/n 102 made its first flight in May 1979. After setting the speed record, G-LYNX was used as a demonstrator and as a test platform, before finally being retired in 1992. Beginning in 2007, AgustaWestland restored the Lynx to its speed record configuration, withe more than 25,000 man hours expended on the project. G-LYNX was unveiled on 11 August 2011, the 25th anniversary of the world record flight. Today, it is on display at The Helicopter Museum, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, South West England.

In April 2013, Trevor Egginton spoke to members of the Empire Test Pilots School at The Helicopter Museum, Weston-super-Mare. In this photograph, Mr. egginton is seated in the helicopter's pilot seat. (The Helicopter Museum)
In April 2013, Trevor Egginton spoke to members of the Empire Test Pilots School at The Helicopter Museum, Weston-super-Mare. In this photograph, Mr. Egginton is seated in the World Record helicopter’s pilot seat. (The Helicopter Museum)

¹ FAI Record File Number 1842 (Helicopters with takeoff weight 3,000–4,000 kg)

² FAI Record File Number 1843 (Helicopters, General) [Absolute Record]

³ FAI Record File Number 1826

⁴ FAI Record File Number 1853

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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7 January 1967

John Steinbeck aboard a U.S. Army UH-1 helicopter of D Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, at Pleiku, Vietnam, 7 January 1967. (Newsday)
John Steinbeck aboard a U.S. Army UH-1B Iroquois helicopter of D Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, at Pleiku, Vietnam, 7 January 1967. (Newsday)

During 1966–1967, author John Steinbeck was in Vietnam. He wrote a series of dispatches to Newsday which have recently been published as a book, Steinbeck In Vietnam: Dispatches From the War, edited by Thomas E. Barden. University of Virginia Press, 224 pp., $29.95.

On 7 January 1967, Steinbeck was at Pleiku, where he flew aboard a UH-1 Huey helicopter with D Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry. He wrote the following about the helicopter pilots:

“I wish I could tell you about these pilots. They make me sick with envy. They ride their vehicles the way a man controls a fine, well-trained quarter horse. They weave along stream beds, rise like swallows to clear trees, they turn and twist and dip like swifts in the evening. I watch their hands and feet on the controls, the delicacy of the coordination reminds me of the sure and seeming slow hands of (Pablo) Casals on the cello. They are truly musicians’ hands and they play their controls like music and they dance them like ballerinas and they make me jealous because I want so much to do it. Remember your child night dream of perfect flight free and wonderful? It’s like that, and sadly I know I never can. My hands are too old and forgetful to take orders from the command center, which speaks of updrafts and side winds, of drift and shift, or ground fire indicated by a tiny puff or flash, or a hit and all these commands must be obeyed by the musicians hands instantly and automatically. I must take my longing out in admiration and the joy of seeing it. Sorry about that leak of ecstasy, Alicia, but I had to get it out or burst.”

Bell UH-1B Iroquois gunship of D Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, U.S. Army. Vietnam ca. 1966–1967. (U.S. Army)
Bell UH-1B Iroquois gunship of D Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, U.S. Army. Vietnam, ca. 1966–1967. (U.S. Army)
Author John Steinbeck observes the Vietnam War from a U.S. Army UH-1B "Huey" helicopter. A gunner mans an M60 7.62mm machine gun. (Associated Press)
Author John Steinbeck observes the Vietnam War from a U.S. Army UH-1B “Huey” helicopter. A gunner mans an M60 7.62mm machine gun. (Associated Press)

© 2014, Bryan R. Swopes

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6 January 1968

Major Patrick Henry Brady, Medical Corps, United States Army.
Major Patrick Henry Brady, Medical Corps, United States Army.

MEDAL OF HONOR

MAJOR PATRICK HENRY BRADY

Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army, Medical Service Corps, 54th Medical Detachment, 67th Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade.
Place and date: Near Chu Lai, Republic of Vietnam, January 6, 1968.
Entered service at: Seattle, Wash.
Born: October 1, 1936, Philip, S. Dak.
Citation:

Major Patrick Henry Brady, Medical Corps, United States Army
Major Patrick Henry Brady, Medical Corps, United States Army

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, Maj. Brady distinguished himself while serving in the Republic of Vietnam commanding a UH-1H ambulance helicopter, volunteered to rescue wounded men from a site in enemy held territory which was reported to be heavily defended and to be blanketed by fog. To reach the site he descended through heavy fog and smoke and hovered slowly along a valley trail, turning his ship sideward to blow away the fog with the backwash from his rotor blades. Despite the unchallenged, close-range enemy fire, he found the dangerously small site, where he successfully landed and evacuated 2 badly wounded South Vietnamese soldiers. He was then called to another area completely covered by dense fog where American casualties lay only 50 meters from the enemy. Two aircraft had previously been shot down and others had made unsuccessful attempts to reach this site earlier in the day. With unmatched skill and extraordinary courage, Maj. Brady made 4 flights to this embattled landing zone and successfully rescued all the wounded. On his third mission of the day Maj. Brady once again landed at a site surrounded by the enemy. The friendly ground force, pinned down by enemy fire, had been unable to reach and secure the landing zone. Although his aircraft had been badly damaged and his controls partially shot away during his initial entry into this area, he returned minutes later and rescued the remaining injured. Shortly thereafter, obtaining a replacement aircraft, Maj. Brady was requested to land in an enemy minefield where a platoon of American soldiers was trapped. A mine detonated near his helicopter, wounding 2 crewmembers and damaging his ship. In spite of this, he managed to fly 6 severely injured patients to medical aid. Throughout that day Maj. Brady utilized 3 helicopters to evacuate a total of 51 seriously wounded men, many of whom would have perished without prompt medical treatment. Maj. Brady’s bravery was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.
// Richard M. Nixon// President

Call sign, "Dust Off." (U.S. Army)
Call sign, “Dust Off.” (U.S. Army)
Major General Patrick Henry Brady, Medical Corps, United States Army
Major General Patrick Henry Brady, Medical Corps, United States Army

Major General Patrick Henry Brady was born 1 October 1936 at Philip, South Dakota, the son of Michael and LaVona Brady. He graduated from Seattle University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. As a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) he received a commission as a second lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps, United States Army. Lieutenant Brady served in Berlin, Germany from 1959 to 1963.

In 1963, Lieutenant Brady was sent to the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama, to be trained as a helicopter pilot. He received his wings in December and the following month was sent to the Republic of South Vietnam, assigned to the 57th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance).

When the unit’s commanding officer was killed in action, Captain Brady assumed command of the 57th’s Detachment A at Sóc Trăng Airfield. After completing his combat tour, Captain Brady was assigned as a helicopter pilot at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 1967 he was reassigned to the 54th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance), 67th Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade, and after the unit completed training, deployed to Chu Lai, Vietnam. It was while serving with this unit that he flew the missions for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

During two combat tours in Vietnam, Major Brady flew more than 2,000 combat missions and rescued as many as 5,000 wounded soldiers.

Patrick Brady served in the United States Army for thirty-four years, rising to the rank of Major General. Major General Brady has been awarded the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster (two awards), Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with silver oak leaf cluster (six awards), Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster (two awards, with “V” Device (“participation in acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy”), Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters (three awards), Air Medal with V-Device (52 awards), and Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster (two awards).

Major General Brady retired in 1983 and lives in Sumner, just south of Auburn, Washington, with his wife, Nancy, whom he met in high school. They have six children. Two are graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York. A daughter, who also graduated from the ROTC unit at Seattle University, served as an officer in the Medical Service Corps with duty in Kosovo and the invasion of Iraq. She was awarded the Bronze Star.

Major General Patrick Henry Brady, U.S. Army (retired) with Senator John Cornyn of Texas, as they announce The Dust Off Crews of the Vietnam War Congressional Gold Medal Act, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, 11 November 2015. (U.S Army)
Major General Patrick Henry Brady, U.S. Army (retired) with Senator John Cornyn of Texas, as they announce The Dust Off Crews of the Vietnam War Congressional Gold Medal Act, at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, 11 November 2015. (U.S Army)

The Bell Helicopter Co. UH-1H Iroquois (Model 205A-1) is an improved variant of the UH-1D (Model 205), which was itself derived from the UH-1B (Model 204). The type’s initial military designation was HU-1, and this resulted in the helicopter being universally known as the “Huey.”

The UH-1H is a single main rotor/tail rotor medium helicopter powered by a turboshaft engine. It can be flown by a single pilot, but is commonly flown by two pilots in military service. The helicopter has an overall length of 57 feet, 0.67 inches (17.375 meters) with rotors turning. The fuselage is 41 feet, 5 inches (12.624 meters) long. The two blade semi-rigid, under-slung main rotor has a diameter of 48 feet, 3.2 inches (14.712 meters), and turns counter clockwise when viewed from above. (The advancing blade is on the helicopter’s right.) At 100% NR, the main rotor turns 324 r.p.m. The two blade tail rotor assembly has a diameter of 8 feet, 6 inches (2.591 meters). It is on the left side of the pylon in a pusher configuration and turns counter-clockwise as seen from the helicopter’s left. (The advancing blade is above the axis of rotation.) The helicopter has a height of 13 feet, 7.4 inches (4.150 meters), measured to the top of the mast.

A Bell UH-1H helicopter ambulance, Vietnam, 1969.
A Bell UH-1H helicopter ambulance, Vietnam, 1968. (John Metcalf, “Dustoff 68,” via dustoff.net)

The UH-1H is powered by a Lycoming LTC1K-4 (T53-L-13) turboshaft engine rated at 1,400 shaft horsepower, though it is derated to the helicopter’s transmission limit. The T53-L-13 is a two-shaft free turbine with a 6-stage compressor (5 axial-flow stages, 1 centrifugal-flow stage) and a 4-stage axial-flow turbine (2 high-pressure stages, 2 low-pressure power turbine stages). The T53-L-13 is 3 feet, 11.9 inches (1.217 meters) long, 1 foot, 11.0 inches (0.584 meters) in diameter and weighs 549 pounds (249 kilograms).

The UH-1H has a maximum gross weight of 9,500 pounds (4,309.1 kilograms). Its maximum speed, Vne, is 124 knots (143 miles per hour, 230 kilometers per hour). With full fuel, 206.5 gallons (781.7 liters), the helicopter has a maximum endurance of three hours.

5,345 UH-1H Hueys were built, and many of the earlier UH-1Ds were upgraded to the UH-1H standard.

A Bell UH-1H medevac helicopter returns to its base, while ground personnel standby to offload the injured. (U.S. Army)
A Bell UH-1H medevac helicopter landing while ground personnel standby to offload the injured. (Free Republic)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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26 December 2015

Deputy Sheriff Jim Miller Dalton, flies Copter 7 over the Solimar Fires, northwest of the City of Ventura just after sunrise, 26 Decmber 2015. Jim has been flying all night. (KABC)
Deputy Sheriff Jim Miller Dalton flies Copter 7 over the Solimar Fire, west of the City of Ventura, at sunrise, 26 December 2015. Jim has been flying all night. (Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Air Unit)

26 December 2015: Shortly before midnight, Christmas Day, a wind-driven fire threatened the tiny coastal community of Solimar Beach, just west of the City of Ventura, California. Low humidity and gusty winds whipped the fire out of control and emergency evacuations were ordered. Winds were clocked at 42 miles per hour (19 meters per second). Highway 1, California’s famous Pacific Coast Highway (or just “PCH”) was closed to traffic in both directions.

Jim Dalton makes a water drop over the Solimar Fire during the night of 25–26 December 2015.
Jim Dalton makes a water drop over the Solimar Fire during the night of 25–26 December 2015. (Cal Fire)

Almost immediately, Copter 7 flew from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Air Unit base at nearby Camarillo Airport (CMA). The pilot of the helicopter was Deputy Sheriff Jim Miller Dalton, a 45-year-veteran helicopter pilot who has served with the Air Unit for more than twenty years.

The Solimar Fire, looking west from the City of Ventura, 26 December 2015. (Austi V. Campbell)
The Solimar Fire, looking west from the City of Ventura, 26 December 2015. (Austi V. Campbell)

Copter 7 is a 1970 Bell HH-1H Iroquois, originally a U.S. Air Force rescue helicopter, serial number 70-2472, and now carrying the FAA registration N205SD. The HH-1H was a variant of the U.S. Army UH-1H transport helicopter.

The Bell Helicopter Co. UH-1H Iroquois (Model 205A-1) is an improved variant of the UH-1D (Model 205), which was itself derived from the UH-1B (Model 204). The type’s initial military designation was HU-1, and this resulted in the helicopter being universally known as the “Huey.”

The UH-1H is a single main rotor/tail rotor medium helicopter powered by a turboshaft engine. It can be flown by a single pilot, but is commonly flown by two pilots in military service. The helicopter has an overall length of 57 feet, 0.67 inches (17.375 meters) with rotors turning. The fuselage is 41 feet, 5 inches (12.624 meters) long. The two blade semi-rigid, under-slung main rotor has a diameter of 48 feet, 3.2 inches (14.712 meters), and turns counter clockwise when viewed from above. (The advancing blade is on the helicopter’s right.) At 100% NR, the main rotor turns 324 r.p.m. The two blade tail rotor assembly has a diameter of 8 feet, 6 inches (2.591 meters). It is on the left side of the pylon in a pusher configuration and turns counter-clockwise as seen from the helicopter’s left. (The advancing blade is above the axis of rotation.) The helicopter has a height of 13 feet, 7.4 inches (4.150 meters), measured to the top of the mast.

The UH-1H is powered by a Lycoming LTC1K-4 (T53-L-13) turboshaft engine rated at 1,400 shaft horsepower, though it is derated to the helicopter’s transmission limit. The T53-L-13 is a two-shaft free turbine with a 6-stage compressor (5 axial-flow stages, 1 centrifugal-flow stage) and a 4-stage axial-flow turbine (2 high-pressure stages, 2 low-pressure power turbine stages). The T53-L-13 is 3 feet, 11.9 inches (1.217 meters) long, 1 foot, 11.0 inches (0.584 meters) in diameter and weighs 549 pounds (249 kilograms).

The UH-1H has a maximum gross weight of 9,500 pounds (4,309.1 kilograms). Its maximum speed, Vne, is 124 knots (143 miles per hour, 230 kilometers per hour). With full fuel, 206.5 gallons (781.7 liters), the helicopter has a maximum endurance of three hours.

5,345 UH-1H Hueys were built, and many of the earlier UH-1Ds were upgraded to the UH-1H standard.

Copter 7, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department HH-1H helicopter, was rebuilt and upgraded to Bell’s Huey II configuration in 1998. The revised aircraft features the driveline and rotors of the more powerful Model 212. The tail rotor has been moved to the right side of the tail rotor pylon in a tractor configuration, reversing its direction of rotation to clockwise, as seen from the helicopter’s left side. (The advancing blade is below the axis of rotation.) The original 1,400 shaft horsepower Lycoming T53-L-13 has been replaced with a T53-L-703, rated at 1,800 shaft horsepower (de-rated to the transmission limit). This engine is more durable, more fuel-efficent and increases the Huey’s maximum gross weight to 10,500 pounds (4,763 kilograms). The overhaul interval (TBO) increases from 2,400 hours, to 5,000 hours. The Huey II is optimized for “hot and high” operation, with increased hover ceilings, both in (HIGE) and out (HOGE) of ground effect.

Copter 7 also uses the BLR Aerospace FastFin for improved tail rotor performance. Water is dropped from a Simplex Aerospace Model 304 Fire Attack System which can carry 369 gallons (1,397 liters) of water, and is equipped with a snorkel to allow the helicopter to take on water while hovering over a source.

Dalton’s helicopter was soon joined by Copter 16, a Sikorsky S-70A Fire Hawk of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Mutual aid between agencies is critical with limited air attack resources available.

Copter 16, a Sikorsky S-70 Fire Hawk operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, makes a water drop on the Solimar Fire, early on the morning 26 December 2015. (Cal Fire)
Copter 16, a Sikorsky S-70 Fire Hawk operated by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, makes a water drop on the Solimar Fire, early on the morning 26 December 2015. (Cal Fire)

After sunrise, Copters 7 and 16 were joined by two more Huey air attack helicopters from the Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit and Cal Fire, along with four fixed-wing air tankers. More than 600 firefighters fought the flames from the ground. Two of them were injured.

By early afternoon on the 26th, the Solimar Fire was contained after burning 1,236 acres (500 hectares). Traffic was restored and residents were allowed to return to their homes.

The fire was caused by arcing power lines.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department also operates a Bell 206L-1 LongRanger II (Copter 3), Bell 205A-1 (Copter 8), and a Bell 212 (Copter 9).

© 2016, Bryan R. Swopes

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