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THE SPRINGFIELD 50 PROJECT
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The following report regarding a UH-1H helicopter crash in Vietnam on September 14, 1969 was furnished by the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association.  The aircraft involved was the II Corps General's aircraft.  It suffered catastrophic mechanical failure.  SP4 Thomas E. Champagne, a Door Gunner with the 189th Assault Helicopter Company, was killed in this crash along with three other crewmembers.

 
On 14 September 1969, at approximately 1210 hours, WO1 Marsh was executing his normal duties of piloting the command and control aircraft for II Corps Headquarters.  He had just returned to the II Corps landing pad and dropped off two passengers.  At this time WO1 Marsh, his crew, and 316 (tail number 67-17316) were released to return to Camp Holloway to have the noon meal and return for further missions in the afternoon.  The tape recordings of the radio transmissions were reviewed and it was learned that at 1218 hours Ghostrider 316 called Pleiku AFB Tower for departure from the II Corps pad with a low level crossing of the western extended.  The request was approved as this was the normal procedure when going from II Corps pad to Camp Holloway.  316 made a normal takeoff and flew to the southwest.  Upon crossing Highway QL14 the direction of flight was changed to a more southerly direction parallel to the road.  Upon passing the western extended of Pleiku AFB the flight path was again changed to a southeasterly direction.  At this point it is normal to gain several hundred feet of altitude and contact Holloway Tower for landing.  Crossing Highway QL14 and about ready to enter Holloway's control zone the aircraft was seen to assume a nose high attitude.  Because of the various locations and distances that eyewitnesses viewed the aircraft, it is believed that the aircraft did not execute a loop, but having assumed a nose high attitude with the length of the aircraft becoming near perpendicular to the ground, forward airspeed was dissipated, fifty to one hundred feet of altitude was gained and as the aircraft reached a point of zero forward airspeed it fell off on the left hand side changing the heading of the aircraft to a northwesterly direction.  At this point the aircraft was in a severe nose low attitude and had an excessive vertical descent.  The aircraft continued its near vertical descent and had assumed an almost level attitude upon impacting the ground.  Evidence at the crash site indicated that there was very little airspeed and the left hand skid contacted the ground first.  The tape recordings, located at Pleiku AFB, indicate that an 0-2 on departure from Pleiku AFB observed the fireball of the impacting helicopter and notified the tower of the crash.  The time was recorded as 1220 hours (local).  The control tower having also observed the fireball was in the process of notifying the crash rescue crew located at that installation.  A HH-43 Kaman Husky was dispensing fire fighting foam over the aircraft approximately three minutes later and the crash rescue vehicles arrived at the site at approximately 1227 hours.  The bodies of the crash victims were removed from the burning wreckage and flown to Graves Registration.

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