CH-3E
Long Tien, Laos
Jan 1970

The incident took place in January 1970 on the Long Tien (L98) runway.  The helicopter had requested permission to hover taxi across the runway.  With the language issue the problem started when the tower gave a Lao T-28 clearance to takeoff.  The helicopter was hovering mid runway when the T-28 came over the hump in the runway.  Seeing he couldn’t takeoff the T-28 pilot, started veering to the right. Fortunately the CH-3E was hovering high. The T-28 tail fin nipped the underside of the nose wiping the electronics door and breaking the main gear scissors.  The T-28 went off the side of the runway, continued for a time to a stop. These T-28s had just been modified with the Yankee Extraction System, similar to the A-1s. So after the bird stopped, the Lao pilot decided he was supposed to use it, so he pulled the ring and was fired up a couple of hundred feet, parachute opens but he hit the ground hard receiving minor injuries.

The cockpit armor plate at the floor kept the damage to a minimum. The door ripped off and the main gear scissors was broken. I think I wired the scissors together. We all cleaned up our drawers and headed for home. (Harvey Meltzer)

Courtesy of Jay Merz
Courtesy of Jay Merz
The wreckage of the T-28 is on both sides of the village road. I took this photo a month or so after the crash. Courtesy of Jay Merz

We had 10 CH-3E’s evacuating thousands of refugees from several sites east of the Plain de Jars for about a week.  I arrived from that mission an hour or so after the Mid Air.  My Acft needed some maintenance we could not get in Laos so I escorted the damaged CH-3E back to Udorn that night at about 40 knots.  I understand it was very windy in the cockpit of the damaged bird. (Jay Merz)

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