Army Helicopter (UH-1H), Tail 68-16244 Mid Air Collision
May 4, 1970

101st Airborne Division
"Screaming Eagles"

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The Army purchased this helicopter 0969
Total flight hours at this point: 00000474
Date: 05/04/70
Incident number: 700504351ACD Accident case number: 700504351 Total loss or fatality Accident
Unit: A/101 AVN
The station for this helicopter was Camp Eagle in South Vietnam
Number killed in accident = 5 . . Injured = 0 . . Passengers = 1
costing 622545
Original source(s) and document(s) from which the incident was created or updated: Defense Intelligence Agency Helicopter Loss database. Army Aviation Safety Center database. Also: OPERA (Operations Report. )
Loss to Inventory

Crew Members:
P CW2 KEARSLEY, TOMMY L KIA
AC 1LT MATTINGLY, LARRY FRANKLIN KIA
CE SGT AHLBERG, THOMAS OLIVER KIA
G SGT TAYLOR, RODNEY ALAN KIA
OB SGT AITKEN, DEAN L KIA

Accident Summary:

On 4 may 1970, UH-1H, Serial Number 68-16244, from company A, 101st AHB, was assigned flare standby for night illumination missions in support of the 1st Infantry Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile). At approximately 1930 hours Company A operations received a mission request from the S-3 air of the 1st brigade to provide illumination for a practice red alert at FSB Kathryn.

At approximately 1955 hours UH-1H, Serial Number 68-16244, Comanchero 20, departed Company A helipad enroute to FSB Kathryn and arrived at that location at approximately 2020 hours. At approximately 2030 hours two AH-1G aircraft from Battery B, 4th Battalion, 77th Artillery departed Camp Eagle enroute FSB Kathryn for a practice red alert. The wing ship of the flight of two AH-1G aircraft was 67-15620, call sign Toro 91D. Toro 91D was having difficulty maintaining visual contact with the lead aircraft (call sign Toro 93) due to the fact that Toro 93's anti-collision light and aft navigation lights were inoperative. Toro 93 informed 91D that he had him in sight and that they would head from their present position direct to the flares over FSB Kathryn at 5500 feet.

The flight of two AH-1G aircraft arrived on station at FSB Kathryn at approximately 2045 hours. Toro 93 made visual contact with the flareship (Comanchero 20) and contacted Juliet 3 (forward observer for Charlie Company, 1/501 Infantry) on the artillery frequency. At this time the forward observer identified the target and requested the Aerial Rocket Artillery (ARA) make the firing passes from north to south. After obtaining the general location of friendly elements in the vicinity of FSB Kathryn, Toro 93 elected to make his firing runs from east to west to preclude overflying the friendly positions and so informed Juliet 3.

During this period of time, Comanchero 20 was in a left hand orbit around FSB Kathryn dropping flares as directed by C Co, 1/501st Company Commander. Comanchero 20 then requested that c1/501st Company Commander have the ARA aircraft come up on UHF frequency E33. At this time the flares were in some way getting tangled up (ref CPT Kobinar's statement).

Soon thereafter, Comanchero 20 completed dropping the flares from the left door, he then called Toro 91D and told him that he was going into a right hand orbit.

Toro 91D at this time was flying the right wing position of Toro 93. Toro 93 was making his initial firing run from east to west with his wing man following him. Toro 91D did not acknowledge this transmission.

Five minutes and forty-five seconds later, the ground element, Planter 63, notified Comanchero control that there was a possibility that a midair collision had occurred.

At this time the board feels that the following events took place after considering the eyewitness statements: the UH-1H was engulfed by fire apparently caused by a flare malfunction. At this time the UH-1H started a descent to the ground and in the process made contact with the AH-1G. This contact resulted in the loss of the UH-1H's rotor system while damaging the AH-1G.

The AH-1G caught fire and the two aircraft separated, the UH-1H fell to the ground in flames while the AH-1G proceeded in what appeared to be an autorotative glide and crashed in heavily wooded and mountainous terrain. Comanchero control then launched another flareship to FSB Kathryn and notified higher headquarters of the possible midair collision. Major Pease, later to become president of the board, travelled to the site after being informed of the possible midair collision, and observed three separate fires on the ground one involving three secondary explosions over a period of five minutes. The fire, later determined to be that of the UH-1H, was described by Major Pease as containing green flames with the secondary explosions being white.

This record was last updated on 05/25/98


The following is crew member information for this incident:


Name: 1LT Larry Franklin Mattingly
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 05/04/70 while performing the duty of Aircraft Commander.
Age at death: 27.9
Date of Birth: 05/31/42
Home City: Indianapolis, IN
Service: FA branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: A/101 AVN 101 ABN


Name: CW2 Tommy L. Kearsley
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 05/04/70 while performing the duty of Pilot.
Age at death: 22.8
Date of Birth: 07/01/47
Home City: Buhl, ID
Service: AV branch of the reserve component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: A/101 AVN 101 ABN


Name: SGT Thomas Oliver Ahlberg (posthumously promoted)
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 05/04/70 while performing the duty of Crew Chief.
Age at death: 19.2
Date of Birth: 02/03/51
Home City: Idaho Falls, ID
Service: regular component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: A/101 AVN 101 ABN


Name: SGT Rodney Alan Taylor (posthumously promoted)
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 05/04/70 while performing the duty of Gunner.
Age at death: 18.9
Date of Birth: 06/05/51
Home City: Seadrift, TX
Service: regular component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: A/101 AVN 101 ABN


Name: SGT Dean L. Aitken (posthumously promoted)
Status: Killed In Action from an incident on 05/04/70 while performing the duty of Aerial Observer.
Age at death: 20.0
Date of Birth: 04/28/50
Home City: Vernal, UT
Service: component of the U.S. Army.
Unit: A/101 AVN 101 ABN


Please send additions or corrections to:

Gary Roush
43 Overbrook Road
Painted Post, NY 14870


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Printed from databases on: 01/25/99
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