Monday, January 27, 2020


A man writes, another discourses and I wonder,
Kobe Bryant died in a helicoper crash in Calabasas Sunday morning ... TMZ Sports has confirmed. Kobe was traveling with at least 3 other people in his private helicopter when it went down. A fire broke out. Emergency personnel responded, but nobody on board survived. 5 people are confirmed dead. 
Why does anyone who isn't in the military ever fly on those things?

I can count the number of times I flew in one of those things. I flew in the better ones, not the Kaman coffins or the CH-46. You couldn't get me to fly in a CH-46. I flew in Huey up to Mubarek Military City from Cairo West, out to one of our Prepo ships in the Persian Gulf, up to Kuwait because I couldn't commander a real air plane. Once into the Red Sea. RH-53s and CH-53s and yes those are the model flown to death in Desert One.

My x wondered why I didn't want to rent a ride on a helo to fly over the Big Island in Hawaii and she explained that her parents had and she had no grasp of the idea that the things crash all the time with fatal consequences which should not happen because they can ride the rotor down if they can still autorotate. Unfortunately, what kills them and the people inside is the total complete failure of the gear box. When that goes bad the bird is pretty much toast and so are the people inside it.

Every time I landed in Honolulu I would step out of the terminal to catch the wiki or just walk to the main terminal and pass by the newspaper machines vending the latest news and the front page was always about a helicopter crash.

I was young and stupid once and acepted a ride on HELMINERON 14 which got out of ground effect hover when it cleared the flight deck and then dunked into the Red Sea before powering out and back onto the deck. It went back into the hanger for the rest of INTENSE LOOK and was craned off in Jeddah.

HELMINERON 14 didn't impress me at all favorably. One of the 3 helos we had onboard never really came out of the hanger during INTENSE LOOK and their OIC was an absolute piece of trash and their maintainers decided that they could best stop condensation on one of the pipes running through their spare parts store room by simply closing the valve that fed it. It was only the valve supplying all the cooling water to our #2 emergency diesel generator that consequently burned up when we lost power but I'm sure they had otherwise redeeming features even if helicopter maintenance wasn't high on their list.

The OIC of the det was a hoot. He told me (mess treasurer and thus point of contact for all things mess related)  that he and his pilots would naturally be taking over the wardroom lounge and told me to keep the rest of the officers out and when I said no he told me he would talk to the CO. Captain Julian would have eaten him alive but he never made it beyond the President of the Mess. The XO explained how things worked to him and we never had to bother the skipper with the idiot, although passing by one of those heavily militarized islands in the mouth of the Red Sea scared the OIC so much the skipper told them that if the people on the islands opened fire, he would open fire. None of us really had the heart to tell the pilots that our 3"50s were typically good for about 3 rounds before the inevitable misfire and jam.

We did the Red Sea from roughly Socotra to Yanbu while the Shreveport and other helos swept the shipping lanes from there north to Port Suez. It was all a nice piece of theater......with sharks.


SCOTTtheBADGER said...

i saw a Bell Model 47 crash once, when something gave way in the transmission. Not a nice memory.

HMS Defiant said...

You really don't want to see.

I was flying someplace on USAIR or some other airline and the guy next to me was EOD and told how he'd been ordered to Tenerife after that disaster. They thought it was terrorist related and not simply man made. He made it very clear that you never ever want to go to the scene of such a disaster. The nightmares last forever. I harbor a few things where closing the eyes brings them forth but nothing like that.

capt fast said...
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capt fast said...

as a rule, all military aircraft are built by the lowest bidder. while they do have lots of different options and capabilities, flying everywhere forever and never crashing is not on the options listing. a lot like ships of all kinds; never has been the "unsinkable" ship built.
a guy simply needs to manage the level of risk a guy is willing to accept in order to get the job done. the number of takeoffs and landings should be equal at the end of the day. was that a seasprite that dunked you?

HMS Defiant said...

It was an RH-53. Not quite as many engines as the CH-53s sported.

To be honest though, I would and always did happily step onto the C5 because they never crashed until.....Same for the C141. I never heard of crashes so I was OK with them even as a loadmaster. I lost my enthusiam for them when a planeload of 7 loadmasters and an utterly indifferent flight deck bunch showed for me in Bahrain. I was always OK with 130s. They use to circle the house back at Selfridge and never crashed.....

I have to admit, I'm over and done with air travel. It's not the safety of the planes so much as the theatre and drama associated with making it onto them. I find I can live without it.

capt fast said...

my last flight was on a boeing 737-800 on Delta. what a great ride that was. really nice machine. trash haulers usually get run hard and put away wet but that was a well kept aircraft.
not many Lockheed products meet my quality expectations.

Tsquared said...

The novelty of riding in a helicopter wore off in less than 5 minutes. I have been a passenger in military helicopters and had a "oh shit" moments.