Thomas Evans Bennett
On 24 February1971, the aircraft crashed on short final to An Loc from about 20 feet after witnesses heard an explosion and saw a fire. The helicopter dipped it's nose slightly to the left and fell straight down, exploding on impact.
WO Goelz, Pilot-in-Charge (PIC), tail number 16038 was enroute to Quan Loi, leaving Phu Loi at approximately 1750 hours on 24 February 1971. He obtained an ASR vector from Phuoc Vinh GCA, probably because PIREPs were indication of a large storm moving from the SSW toward the Na Loc, Wuan Loi area.
The Phuoc Vinh radar operator attempted to vector '038' around the apparent storm cells, but with difficulty. He was unable to pick up a transponder signal from '038' so he lowered his screen intensity in an effort to utilitze only the image produced by his radar.
When the aircraft reached the Quan Loi area, the pilot requested to descend to 1700 feet. At this time radar contact was lost and the radar operator began calling '038' on guard. Aircraft '038' approached the An Loc airstrip on a heading of about 260 degrees, (the airstrip running 05 and 23.) It appeared to be making a normal approach.
Then, at about 20 feet above the ground, the aircraft yawed to the right, (a small explosion was heard and fire was sighted at this time), dipped its nose to about 045 degrees below the horizon, rolled slightly to the left and fell straight down exploding upon impact.
The crash distribution was extremely compact indicating very little, if any, forward ground speed. Upon impact the engine left the aircraft rolling backward, past the tailboom. Also the right cargo door flew up and behind the aircraft.
It may be noted that the aircraft did not slide through the perimeter wire but remained in the area of initial impact. The pilot and co-pilot were contained within the cabin area. Three of the passengers were found beneath the transmission components. The other two were thrown out the right side of the aircraft.
It should also be noted here that the main rotor and transmision components were initially with the main wreckage. It was moved in order to facilitate removal of three bodies.
WO Bennett was survived by his parents, Louise M and John Bennett, living on Athelwuld St, Dorchester, Massachusetts. In 1975, his father passed and in 1997, his mother passed away and they all are interred was buried in St Joesph's cemetery, West Roxbury, Massachusetts.
- - The Virtual Wall, July 22, 2014
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