MacDill AFB, FL
Pilot Capt. David Frasier and I (Neil McCutchan) were hovering over a deep water channel off MacDill giving those in the back basket pickup experience. While hovering we heard a sound similar to rapid gun fire. David said we were losing power. As co-pilot I issued the call that we were ditching in the bay. As this was being done David was able to get the helicopter over shallower water (6 feet vs. 12 or more feet). The helicopter settled in the water with the co-pilot’s side of the bubble resting on the bottom. It was lucky that the plexiglass broke and I was just able to ‘walk’ through it on the bottom where I popped the ‘water wings.’ Yes, another ’43 came out to get us but we waved it off as a boat from the base recreational dock was coming out. After over 24hrs in the saltwater of Tampa Bay the helicopter was not salvageable. They had to wait to get a barge into position. Getting the barge and tides were problems.