Tag Archives: Ronald Clyde

15 March 1966

Los Angeles Airways S-61L at LAX, 15 March 1966. (George Fry/Los Angeles Times)

15 March 1966: A Los Angeles Airways Sikorsky S-61L was taxiing at Los Angeles Airport (LAX) when its right main landing gear collapsed. (Several S-61L accidents have been caused by the collapse of the right main gear, including New York Airways Flight 971, 16 May 1977.) A rotor blade struck a window of the passenger waiting area, which was empty at the time.

Pilot Clarence Hanes, co-pilot Ronald Clyde and purser Rock Kesselring were uninjured. Maintenance technician Bruce Penick was hit by flying debris and seriously injured. He was transported to Daniel Freeman Hospital.

Los Angeles Airways operated five Sikorsky S-61Ls in 1966. It had accepted the fifth one just four days before this accident.

The Sikorsky S-61L was a civil variant of the United States Navy HSS-2 Sea King and was the first helicopter specifically built for airline use. The prototype, N300Y, first flew 2 November 1961. It is a large twin-engine helicopter with a single main rotor/tail rotor configuration. Although HSS-2 fuselage is designed to allow landing on water, the S-61L is not amphibious, having standard landing gear rather than the sponsons of the HSS-2 (and civil S-61N).

The S-61L fuselage is 4 feet, 2 inches (1.270 meters) longer than that of the HSS-2. The S-61L is 72 feet, 7 inches (22.123 meters) long and 16 feet, 10 inches (5.131 meters) high, with rotors turning. The fully-articulated main rotor has five blades and a diameter of 62 feet (18.898 meters). Each blade has a chord of 1 foot, 6.25 inches (0.464 meters). The tail rotor also has five blades and a diameter of 10 feet, 4 inches (3.149 meters). They each have a chord of 7–11/32 inches (0.187 meters). At 100% NR, the main rotor turns 203 r.p.m. and the tail rotor, 1,244 r.p.m.

The S-61L was powered by two General Electric CT58-110 turboshaft engines, each of which had a continuous power rating of 1,050 shaft horsepower and maximum power of 1,250 shaft horsepower. The main transmission was rated for 2,300 horsepower, maximum.

The S-61L has a cruise speed of  166 miles per hour (267 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling is 12,500 feet (3,810 meters). Its maximum takeoff weight is 20,500 pounds (9,298.6 kilograms).

Between 1958 and 1980, Sikorsky built 794 S-61-series helicopters. 13 were S-61Ls.

© 2023, Bryan R. Swopes