Helicopter Accidents

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Wiesbaden AB, Germany
26 Sep 1975

CH-53C #70-1632 of the 601st TASS crashed, near the town of Gutersloh, Germany, when it suffered dual engine failure due to ice ingestion, autorotation attempted too late, the crew of four and twelve passengers were killed.

The Edwardsville Intelligencer (Edwardsville, IL.)
Fri, Sep 26, 1975, page 1

16 Americans feared dead in German helicopter crash

PADERBORN, West Germany (AP) – A U.S. Air Force helicopter carrying 16 men crashed and burned in northern Germany today and a spokesman said there were no known survivors. The West German Defense Ministry disputed witness reports that two low-flying Dutch jets had torn off the big CH-53 helicopter’s rotors.

“The helicopter fell like a stone into a meadow, exploded and burst into flames,” said a police spokesman in Paderborn, 100 miles northeast of Bonn.

German fireman extinguished the blaze with special foam and recovered six charred bodies from the twisted wreckage. But the foam hampered the search for other victims.

The West German Defense Ministry said that minutes before the crash the pilot had radioed the control tower of the British Royal Air Force base in Guetersloh and received permission to descend from 8,000 to 5,000 feet.

The German spokesman said two Dutch Starfighter jets flying at 800 feet reported seeing the helicopter plunge past them and photographed the crash site, but he denied they could have caused the crash.

The Paderborn police quoted a dozen witnesses saying the two Starfighters made a “practice attack” on the helicopter and that its rotor was torn off in the backwash of the jets.

But the defense spokesman said: “It can be stated with certainty that the air accident was not caused by these airplanes or by others since there were no planes at that altitude and in that vicinity at that time”.

A U. S. Air Force spokesman said the CH-53, assigned to the 601st Tactical Air Support Squadron at Wiesbaden Air Base was carrying a four man crew and 12 passengers, apparently all Air Force personnel, on a flight to Hessisch Oldendorf for a site check of a maneuver area.

The flight originated at Wiesbaden and made an intermediate stop at the U. S. Ramstein Air Base before heading north on the 150-mile flight, the Air Force said. It crashed at 10:30 a.m. local time – 5:30 a.m. EDT – about 12 miles southeast of the city of Guetersloh, the spokesman said.

Some witnesses reported seeing three men leap from the plunging craft, but their fates were unknown.

From Beckley Post-Herald The Raleigh Register (Beckley, WV)
Sun Sep 28, 1975, page 2

Crewmembers killed in this accident were:
Capt. John Clifford “Cliff” Merrill (P)
1st Lt. Frederick S. Kerry (CP)
SSgt. Larry R. Leaming (FE)
SSgt Jeffrey A. Dawson (FE).

Passengers killed in this accident were:
Lt. Col. Robert Waldbillig
Maj. Hank L. Donaldson
Capt. Frank J. Sindoni Jr.
Capt. Paul L. Hoke
Capt. John H. Dinneen Jr.
SMSgt. Ronald C. Elder
MSgt. James H. Elliot
TSgt. Darold G. Tentico
SSgt. Horrace A. Weaver Jr.
A1C David Kenneth Russell
Air Force civilian James C. Driscoll
Air Force civilian Johannes H. Browns

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