Richard Hawerton Finley, Captain, USAF (Fallen)
April 05, 1936 – November 03, 1965

3638th Flight Training Sq., USAF

H-43B #58-1851
(Call Sign “Charlie Brown Five”)
Stead AFB, NV
03 November 1965

USAF ACCIDENT/INCIDENT REPORT
03 November 1965

Provided by Johan Ragay

On 3 November 1965, at 0630 hours, Capt. Finley, Lt. Kessler and 2nd Lt. Nassiry, Iranian Army Student Pilot, arrived at the Helicopter Operations Building to prepare for the days training mission. Briefing of the day’s mission was conducted and flight planned. Capt. Finley and student pilots Kessler and Nassiry, preflighted #58-1851, call sign Charlie Brown Five.

The initial takeoff was made at 0810 hours with Lt. Kessler at the controls and Lt. Poe as a copilot, (Lt. Poe was a survival student flying in the cabin for flight pay purposes only). Lt. Nassiry remained on the ground to await his time to fly. In the initial portion of the flight, Capt. Finley noted the left rotor system to be out of track and using the left tracking motor, he re-tracked it.

After one and one half hours Capt. Finley returned the aircraft to the ramp to change student pilots. Lt. Poe departed the aircraft and Lt. Brock took his place as copilot in the cabin. The AFTOP Form 781-A reflects Capt. Finley made an aircraft write-up during change of students. The write-up reflects the left rotor tracking motor bottomed out.

At 0940 hours the aircraft again took off for the second portion of the training flight with Lt. Nassiry at the controls. The aircraft flew to the South Pad H-43B Transition Training Area and remained in the transition area for one hour and six minutes. Upon departure from transition area Charlie Brown Five aircraft 851 contacted the tower requesting clearance to the autorotation traffic pattern located at runway 25-07. The tower cleared Charlie Brown Five to the pattern where six autorotative touch and go landings were completed from left hand traffic to runway 07. Charlie Brown Five aircraft 851 then advised the tower he was on downwind for turn off-center (final landing and turn off at the enter taxiway for the return to the ramp). This was the last transmission heard from Charlie Brown Five aircraft 851.

The aircraft was next observed by the Tower Controllers and eye witnesses on the ground to enter a left turn and assume an abnormally steep nose down attitude and crash on a southerly heading more than 90 degrees to the landing runway heading. Peckerwood Two, another H-43B, flown by Capt. Link and another Iranian student pilot were returning from the transition training area and observed Charlie Brown Five in a steep diving attitude in an apparent right turn and then crash. Peckerwood Two reported the crash and continued on into the field and landed. The Tower immediately initiated the primary crash circuit at 1900Z and advised all helicopters in the Stead area to remain clear of runway 25. Peckerwood Two requested and received clearance from the Tower to land on the center taxiway due to low fuel.

Stead Helicopter Crash Fatal to Three Officers

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada)
Thur, Nov 4, 1965, page 1

Three Air Force officers were killed Wednesday with their turbojet-powered helicopter crashed onto the field at Stead AFB, eight miles north of Reno.

The fatalities were the first in the history of the helicopter training operation which started at Stead in July 1958.

Information officers at the base said that the school has graduated 1,500 pilots, logged a total of 160,000 student flying hours, and flown approximately 500 rescue missions without a previous casualty.

The crash yesterday occurred at 11 a.m. and involved one of the smaller type helicopters designated H-43B and known as a “Husky”. The machine carried a pilot, co-pilot, and one student office. All three were U.S. Air Force officers. The plane was on a routine training mission.

The identities of the victims were being withheld by officials pending notification of next of kin.

Base flying safety officer Maj. Richard Bragg, said that preliminary investigation into the cause of the crash has been started. A formal board of inquiry will be formed to complete the investigation.

The “Husky” type helicopter was a familiar sight in this area and has been extensive service in search and rescue work and in fire suppression. In addition to a crew of two officers, the craft can carry four other men.

The Huskies, along with other planes and personnel stationed at the helicopter training school are in the process of being transferred to Sheppard AFB, Texas. The entire base is to be deactivated by next June.

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