21 October 2015

Gunfighter Diary Desert Storm 23 Feb 91

23 Feb 91

160179, 2K2, 1.0, FCF, Peewee
160179, 2R1, 2.3, 261, Peewee

Got busy at 0500, getting ready to be the combat test pilot and go see where the bad guys were. Fixing and flying helicopters. I've tested every Huey we have over the past 5 days for one thing or another. Came in early to finish 210, it needed to fly today. Packed our gear the night before IOT spend the night in the field after 210 was tested. Weather sucked again, but not too bad for helos. Fly slow with 1-2 miles vis, what else do we need. It took 3 hours to get 1 hour of test time, because we had to be sequenced back into the pattern each time we landed. Finished the test, loaded our gear and waited for our section leader Shiner to buzz back through and latch onto us. We finally launched out at 1500 and made the circuit to drop off parts and people. Our main frag was to be the 1st MarDiv's Command and Control bird outon the west side of the Kuwaiti border. Refueled along the way, got to Division at sunset and they tasked us with a PsyOps mission. The plan was to launch and to fly a few miles of the berm and play messages over a loudspeaker system, maybe some rock music. An Army guy showed up and the loudspeakers were loaded into our bird. Since I've flown Hueys the only thing we've connected to loudspeaker power plug was our vibrex test set. A week or so ago, loudspeaker showed up. Where do they store those?

Would have been an awesome mission, but when we were taking off as Dash 2 we browned out in the LZ. Flying on NVGs, first part of the takeoff was normal but I noticed a few things blowing around off the left side of the aircraft. Felt sorry for the grunts in the area at first, but then instead of moving forward we were sliding backwards. Not good Our nose was high and I was worried about digging in the tail rotor. Peewee leveled the aircraft then thud, we hit the ground. I knew we landed hard and thought "That sucked, let's try that again." About that time the Crew Chief said "Sir, there's something wrong with the skid." I opened my door and thought "Hmm, why is the skid turned funny and why are we sitting so low?" Didn't think we hit that hard, felt harder landings on the boat but maybe the skids slid on the metal deck vs grabbing in the sand. Anyway the crosstubes had rolled back and the skid shoes broke. Aircraft was perfectly level. Most important, everyone inside and outside the aircraft is OK. Peewee did a good job of keeping us level. WE had two passengers and they didn't even realize that there was a problem. Crew Chief said "OK, we're shutting down and then you'll have to get out." They wanted to know why.

After we got shut down we moved the PsyOps package to Shiner's bird and he took off for a while to fly them around. We called back to base to have them send out new skids and worked on finding something to lift the bird. It looks like the only other casualty is the landing light. Man I wanted to fly that mission, I think I missed my chance to hear them playing Flight of the Valkyrie.

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