This Naval Helicopter History Timeline is sourced using historical data and pictures from “THE NAVAL HELICOPTER-HIGHLIGHTS IN NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY,” written by CAPT Vincent C. Secades USN (Ret), Published by Naval Helicopter Association, Coronado, California, 2nd Edition June 2012 and by the Naval Helicopter Historical Society research staff using official naval records.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 400BC till 1940
Chinese Top-400 BC
Chinese develop a vertical flying top that was used as a child’s toy.
1483 Leonardo Da Vinci – Sketched the “Helical Air Screw”
1483 Leonardo Da Vinci – Sketched the “Helical Air Screw” the most advanced plans of the period for a helicopter.
1800-1900 OTHERS in the pursuit vertical flight
1800-1900 OTHERS in the pursuit vertical flight: Sir George Cayley, Thomas Edison, Wilbur & Orville Wright, Paul Cornu, Juan de la Cierva, Corradino D’ Ascanio, Heinrich Focke, and more.
November 13, 1907, French engineer and bicycle maker Paul Cornu
November 13, 1907, French engineer and bicycle maker Paul Cornu made history by becoming the first man to fly in a rotary wing aircraft. The primitive helicopter – a twin rotorcraft powered by a 24-horsepower engine – only lifted Cornu about five feet off the ground, holding him there for 20 seconds at Coquainvilliers, near Lisieux in France.
1912 Early Navy Interest
1912-An early, if limited, interest in the helicopter was shown as the Secretary of the Navy authorized expenditure of not more than $50 for developing models of a helicopter design proposed by Chief Machinist’s Mate F. E. Nelson of West Virginia (Armored Cruiser No. 5). The Secretary’s accompanying policy implication was followed with a few exceptions for the next 30 years: “The Department recognizes the value of the helicopter principle in the design of naval aircraft and is following closely the efforts of others in this direction.”
1917 Policy Regarding Helicopter Development
1917 The policy regarding helicopter development was established by the Secretaries of the War and Navy Departments on the basis of recommendations made by the Joint Technical Board on Aircraft. Basically, need for improvements in power plants and propellers was recognized as necessary if a successful helicopter was to be obtained, but actual support of development efforts was to be limited to moral encouragement until a vendor had demonstrated a helicopter of military value.
First U.S. Navy Contract for Rotary Wing Aircraft
January 22, 1931. – The U.S. Navy ordered three XOP-1 autogiro prototypes from Pitcairn Aircraft Co., to be evaluated for naval service. This was the in history.
First U.S. Navy Rotary Wing Aircraft Landing and Take Off from a Ship at Sea
September 23, 1931. – LT Alfred M. Pride, USN, piloted an XOP-1 in the first rotary wing aircraft landing and take off from a ship at sea, USS Langley (CV-1).
First U.S. Navy Contract to Produce an Autogiro without Fixed Wings and Ailerons
March 12, 1935. – The Navy awarded Pitcairn another contract to produce an autogiro without fixed wings and ailerons. The XOP-2 was the first Navy rotary wing aircraft without fixed wings. This modification, made possible by the implementation of cyclic control of the rotor blades pitch angle, greatly improved controllability at slow airspeeds.
The XOZ-1, BuNo A8602, an Autogiro built for the Navy by Pennsylvania Aircraft Syndicate
.August 9, 1937. – The XOZ-1, BuNo A8602, an autogiro built for the Navy by Pennsylvania Aircraft Syndicate, performed demonstration flights, including water landings and take-offs. This autogiro was a modified N2Y-1 tandem-seat biplane trainer.
The overall results of evaluations during the 1930s convinced the Navy hierarchy that the autogiro could not satisfactorily meet naval requirements. The Navy needed a hovering vehicle. It would have to wait a few more years before that need could be fulfilled.
Inter-Agency was creaCed to Administer the Rotary Wing Development Program
June 30, 1938. – An Inter-Agency was created to administer the rotary wing development program funded by the Dorsey Act. CDR William J. Kossler, USCG, represented the Coast Guard. He would become one of the “Founding Fathers” of helicopter naval aviation.
The U.S. Army Awarded a Contract to Build an Experimental Helicopter, the XR-1
July 19, 1940. – The U.S. Army Material Division awarded Platt-LePage Aircraft Co. a contract to build an experimental helicopter, the XR-1, a twin-side-by-side-rotors design based on the technology of the German Focke-Wulf Fw-61. This was the second helicopter contract awarded by the U.S. military; the first, awarded by the Army to the Russian émigré George de Bothezat in 1921, had failed to produce a practical helicopter.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1940 till 1950
Commander D. Royce was Designated to Represent the Navy
April 23, 1940-Commander D. Royce was designated to represent the Navy on an Army Air Corps Evaluation Board for rotary-wing aircraft. This board was established incidental to legislation directing the War Department to undertake governmental development of rotary-wing aircraft.
XSOC-1 Conducted Successful Operations
May 20,1940-The Commanding Officer of the destroyer Noa (DD 343) reported on successful operations conducted off the Delaware Capes in which an XSOC-1, piloted by Lieutenant G. L. Heap, was hoisted over the side for takeoff and was recovered by the ship while underway. As an epilogue to preliminary operations conducted at anchor on 15 May, Lieutenant Heap made an emergency flight transferring a stricken seaman from the Noa in Harbor of Refuge, Del., to the Naval Hospital, Philadelphia.
Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky - Designed and Flew the FIRST successful United States Helicopter
May 24 1940- Igor Ivanovich Sikorsky – (05/25/1889 – 10/26/1972) – Designed and flew the FIRST successful United States helicopter, the Vought-Sikorsky 300 (VS-300).
U.S. Army Awarded Sikorsky Aircraft a Contract to Build the XR-4 Single-Main-Rotor and Tail Rotor Helicopter
December 17, 1940. – The U.S. Army awarded Sikorsky Aircraft a contract to build the XR-4 single-main-rotor and tail rotor helicopter prototype. Sikorsky would use this configuration in all his future helicopter designs. The XR-4 first flew on 13 January 1942.
U.S. Coast Guard Tranferred to the Navy Department
November 1, 1941. – In view of the deteriorating diplomatic situation and anticipating the break of hostilities in both, the Atlantic and the Pacific theaters, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order transferring operational control of the U.S. Coast Guard to the Navy Department.
Sikorsky Offered a XR-4 Flight Demonstration for the Army and Representatives of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and the Royal Navy. USCG
April 20, 1942. – Sikorsky offered a XR-4 flight demonstration for the Army and representatives of the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and the Royal Navy. USCG CDR Watson A. Burton, Commanding Officer of the New York Coast Guard Air Station, Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn, NY, and CDR William J. Kossler, who was serving as Chief of the Aviation Engineering Division at Coast Guard Headquarters, witnessed the demonstration. They agreed that the helicopter could meet the requirements of a rescue vehicle and proposed that three helicopters be procured for test and evaluation. Their proposal was immediately rejected.
CDR Kossler, in his Quest to Bring to Fruition the Naval Helicopter
May 1942. – CDR Kossler, in his quest to bring to fruition the naval helicopter, arranged for his protégée, LCDR Frank A. Erickson, an experienced seaplane pilot and a fervent helicopter advocate, to be assigned as Executive Officer of the New York Coast Guard Air Station. With their shared enthusiasm for the helicopter as a rescue vehicle, Kossler wanted to bring Erickson close to the Sikorsky factory.
President Ordered that an Air Medal be Established
May 11, 1942-The President ordered that an Air Medal be established for award to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard after 8 September 1939, distinguishes or has distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.
LCDR Erickson Visited the Sikorsky Plant in Connecticut
June 26, 1942. – LCDR Erickson visited the Sikorsky plant in Connecticut and inspected the XR-4 development program. Three days later he submitted a report to Headquarters recommending the procurement of helicopters for convoy antisubmarine patrol and search and rescue duty. Knowing that the Navy was very concerned with the convoy losses in the Atlantic caused by German submarines, Erickson placed emphasis on the helicopter antisubmarine role.
The Bureau of Aeronautics issued a Planning Directive for the Procurement of four Sikorsky helicopters
July 24, 1942. – The Bureau of Aeronautics issued a Planning Directive for the procurement of four Sikorsky helicopters, one YR-4 and three XR-6s, for evaluation by the Navy and Coast Guard. CDR Kossler convinced the Commandant of the Coast Guard, ADM Russell R. Waesche, to obtain authorization from ADM Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations, to establish a Coast Guard helicopter test and evaluation program.
Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet Directed that an Aircraft Experimental and Developmental Squadron be Established
August 13, 1942-The Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet directed that an Aircraft Experimental and Developmental Squadron be established about 30 September 1942 at NAS Anacostia. This squadron, which replaced the Fleet Air Tactical Unit, was to conduct experiments with new aircraft and equipment in order to determine their practical application and tactical employment.
The V-173, a full-scale model of a Fighter Aircraft with an almost Circular Wing, Made its First Flight
November 23, 1942-The V-173, a full-scale model of a fighter aircraft with an almost circular wing, made its first flight at the Vought-Sikorsky plant, Stratford, Conn. A military version of this aircraft, the XF5U-1, was constructed later but never flown.
Bell Aircraft Corporation Developed the First Helicopter to Fly with a Teetering Semi-Rigid Rotor System
December 18, 1942- Lawrence “Larry” Bell – (04/05/1894 – 10/20/1956) – Bell Aircraft Corporation developed the first helicopter to fly with a teetering semi-rigid rotor system with stabilizer bar and ushered in an age of economical, easily produced helicopter models.
ADM King Issued a Letter to the Bureau of Aeronautics Directing the Development and Evaluation of Helicopters
February 15, 1943. – ADM King issued a letter to the Bureau of Aeronautics directing the development and evaluation of helicopters deployed aboard merchant ships for antisubmarine patrol duty. It assigned responsibility to the Coast Guard for the testing and evaluation of helicopters. On 4 May a Combined Board for the Evaluation of the Ship-Based Helicopter in Antisubmarine Warfare was formed.
The Naval Photographic Science Laboratory was Established at NAS Anacostia
February 24, 1943-The Naval Photographic Science Laboratory was established at NAS Anacostia under the direction of the Bureau of Aeronautics to provide photographic services to the Navy and to develop equipment and techniques suitable for fleet use.
Evaluation of the Helicopter in Anti-Submarine Operations
May 4, 1943-To expedite the evaluation of the helicopter in antisubmarine operations, the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet directed that a “joint board” be formed with representatives of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet; the Bureau of Aeronautics; the Coast Guard; the British Admiralty and the Royal Air Forces. The resulting Combined Board for the Evaluation of the Ship-Based Helicopter in Anti-Submarine Warfare was later expanded to include representatives of the Army Air Forces, the War Shipping Administration and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
The Army Conducted the First Sea Trials of the XR-4 aboard the Merchant Tanker Bunker Hill
May 7, 1943. – The Army conducted the first sea trials of the XR-4 aboard the merchant tanker Bunker Hill, with Captain Frank Gregory at the controls. The Maritime Commission sponsored this demonstration, conducted in the Long Island Sound. Captain Gregory circled and landed aboard the ship about fifteen times.
LCDR Erickson began Helicopter Flight Training in the XR-4 at the Sikorsky Plant in Connecticut
June 1943. – LCDR Erickson began helicopter flight training in the XR-4 at the Sikorsky plant in Connecticut. He soloed after three hours of dual flight training with Sikorsky’s chief test pilot Les Morris, thus becoming Coast Guard helicopter pilot number one.
LCDR Erickson Submitted Proposal on the Helicopter’s Antisubmarine Potential.
June 10, 1943. – LCDR Erickson submitted another proposal, this time placing all the emphasis on the helicopter’s antisubmarine potential. He recommended that helicopters be equipped with radar and dunking sonar to become “the eyes and ears of the convoy escorts.”
The Bureau of Aeronautics Placed an Order for 44 R-5s (Navy designation HO2S-1)
June 22, 1943. – The Bureau of Aeronautics placed an order for 44 R-5s (Navy designation HO2S-1), a new Sikorsky design twice as big as the R-4. By the time the first HO2S-1, was accepted in December 1945, the war had ended. These helicopters were assigned to NAS New York and USCG Air Station, Elizabeth City, SC.
The Navy Accepted its First Helicopter, a Sikorsky YR-4B, Navy designation XHNS-1, BuNo 46445
October 16, 1943. – The Navy accepted its first helicopter, a Sikorsky YR-4B, Navy designation XHNS-1, BuNo 46445, at Bridgeport, Connecticut. LCDR Erickson flew the one-hour acceptance flight. CDR Charles T. Booth, USN, went to Bridgeport to qualify as a helicopter pilot and to fly the XHNS-1 to the Naval Air Test Center (NATC), NAS Patuxent River, MD. CDR Booth was the first U.S. Navy Officer to become qualified to fly helicopters.
Birthday of Navy Helicopter Aviation
October 16, 1943. – BIRTHDAY OF NAVY HELICOPTER AVIATION
LTJG Steward R. Graham, USCG, Completed Helicopter Flight Training at the Sikorsky Plant
October 20, 1943. – LTJG Steward R. Graham, USCG, completed helicopter flight training at the Sikorsky plant, soloing after three and a half hours of dual instruction. LTJG Graham became USCG helicopter pilot number two. LCDR Erickson was his flight instructor. Graham would become the lead test pilot in the development of the helicopter as an ASW platform.
CDR Charles T. Booth Delivered the First XHNS-1 to NAS Patuxent River
October 22, 1943. – CDR Charles T. Booth delivered the first XHNS-1 to NAS Patuxent River. He established and led a helicopter flight test facility at NATC. The Army transferred two additional YR-4Bs to the Navy. In time, a total of 20 YR-4Bs from the Army contract of 100 were transferred to the Navy. According to its records, between October 1943 and December 1944 the U.S. Navy accepted 68 YR-4Bs (HNS-1s). They were powered with the R-550 radial engine, its various versions developing between 180 and 200 hp.
The New York Coast Guard Air Station was Designated the First U.S. Naval Helicopter Training Base
November 19, 1943. – The New York Coast Guard Air Station was designated the first U.S. naval helicopter training base, newly promoted CDR Erickson commanding. Erickson began to train Coast Guard, Navy, Army Air Corps, and British helicopter pilots.
LCDR John M. Miller, USNR, Soloed the HNS-1, Becoming U.S. Navy Helicopter Pilot Number Two
December 5, 1943. – LCDR John M. Miller, USNR, soloed the HNS-1, becoming U.S. Navy helicopter pilot number two. CDR Erickson was his flight instructor. A few days later the Navy conducted its first HNS-1 shipboard operational test. LCDR Miller landed aboard the British freighter M. V. Daghestan in the Long Island Sound.
Chief of Naval Operations Directed the Separation of the Helicopter Test and Development Functions from the Pilot Training Function.
December 18, 1943. – Based on the results of this test, the Chief of Naval Operations directed the separation of the helicopter test and development functions from the pilot training function. He further directed that, effective 1 January 1944, the Coast Guard establish a helicopter pilot training program at Floyd Bennett Field, under the direction of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air). The directive established the criteria that after 25 hours of dual and solo flight time, a fixed wing pilot was qualified as a helicopter pilot. It further stated than, as of the date of the directive, three Coast Guard and two Navy officers had qualified as helicopter pilots. These pilots were: LCDR Frank A. Erickson, LTJG Steward R. Graham, and LT A. N. Fisher from the Coast Guard, and CDR Charles T. Booth and LCDR John M. Miller from the Navy. These early helicopter pilots did not have a formal Navy training program to follow, or an established procedure to record and preserve their helicopter pilot qualifications. In fact, their training consisted on a few hours of dual flight instruction, enough to make them safe-for-solo. From then on they gained their flying proficiency while performing their assigned flying duties. They were never placed in the list of designated helicopter pilots. From its beginning, the Navy considered helicopter rating as a postgraduate qualification, and only Naval Aviators were sent to helicopter training. This policy continued until 1954.
The Navy Signed a Contract For Frank Piasecki’s Single XHRP-1 Prototype
January 1, 1944. – The Navy signed a contract with P-V Engineering Forum, Frank Piasecki’s emerging enterprise, for the building of a single XHRP-1 prototype. This was the first twin-rotor helicopter in the tandem configuration built in the U.S. The XHRP-X, a technology demonstrator, first flew on 7 March 1945. The XHRP-1 evaluation was very successful, and the Navy quickly ordered production of twenty HRP-1s, nicknamed the “Flying Banana.”
CDR Erickson performed the First Recorded Helicopter Mission of Mercy
January 3, 1944. – CDR Erickson performed the first recorded helicopter mission of mercy when he flew an HNS-1 through a winter blizzard to deliver a cargo of blood plasma from Manhattan, NY, to the Hospital at Sandy Hook, NJ, to treat over 100 sailors injured in explosions aboard the destroyer USS Turner. This event helped to reverse the perception of helicopters as impractical machines.
The First Atlantic Convoy that Used the New Antisubmarine Helicopter Patrol Capability
January 6, 1944. – The first Atlantic convoy that used the new antisubmarine helicopter patrol capability sailed from New York to Liverpool, UK, with two HNS-1 helicopters and three pilots, U.S. Navy LCDRs James Klopp and John Miller and USCG LTJG StewartGraham embarked. The first sortie at sea was flown from Daghestan by LTJG Graham on 16 January, a 30 minutes flight. With the support of CAPT Kossler and ADM Waesche, CDR Erickson had been able to sell the Navy on the concept of using the helicopter in the convoy antisubmarine patrol role.
First Detection of a Submerged Enemy Submarine by the Use of MAD Gear
February 24, 1944-The first detection of a submerged enemy submarine by the use of MAD gear was made by Catalinas of VP-63, on a MAD barrier patrol of the approaches to the Strait of Gibraltar. They attacked the U-761 with retrorockets, and with the assistance of two ships and aircraft from two other squadrons, sank it.
LTCOL Desmond E. Canavan, USMC, Flew his First Helicopter Dual Flight
March 30, 1944. – LTCOL Desmond E. Canavan, USMC, serving as test pilot at NATC, Patuxent River, flew his first helicopter dual flight in the XHNS-1 BuNo 39034. After twelve dual flights with LCDR John Miller, LTCOL Canavan soloed the XHNS-1 on 3 November 1944, thus becoming the first Marine pilot to obtain a helicopter qualification.
Air-Sea Rescue Squadrons (VH) were Formed in the Pacific Fleet
April 15, 1944-Air-Sea Rescue Squadrons (VH) were formed in the Pacific Fleet to provide rescue and emergency services as necessary in the forward areas. Prior to this time the rescue function was performed as an additional duty by regularly operating patrol squadrons
Helicopter Designation Letters Changed
May 13, 1944-To distinguish between fixed and rotary wing heavier-than-aircraft, the helicopter class designation VH plus a mission letter (i.e. VHO for observation and VHN for training) was abolished and helicopters were established as a separate type designated H. The previous mission letters thus became classes designated O, N, and R for observation, training and transport respectively.
Development of a Automatic Pilot Installation in a HNS-1 Helicopter
May 17, 1944-The Bureau of Aeronautics authorized CGAS Floyd Bennett Field to collaborate with the Sperry Gyroscope Company in making an automatic pilot installation in a HNS-1 helicopter.
USCGC Cobb (WPG-181), the First U.S. Helicopter Carrier, Began Underway Operations in the Long Island Sound
June 1944. – USCGC Cobb (WPG-181), the first U.S. helicopter carrier, began underway operations in the Long Island Sound. USCGC Cobb was a modified old passenger ship. Excessive maintenance costs drove the Coast Guard to decommission her on 31 January 1946.
Parachute Experimental Division was Established at Lakehurst
June 29, 1944-The Parachute Experimental Division was established at Lakehurst, N.,J., for research, development, and testing of parachutes and survival gear.
CDR Erickson Began Testing a Bomb-Loading Electric Hoist Installed in an HNS-1
August 11, 1944. – CDR Erickson began testing a bomb-loading electric hoist installed in an HNS-1, the first rescue hoist installed in a helicopter. After four days of testing over Jamaica Bay, its feasibility was clearly demonstrated, but the electric motor proved to be too weak and slow. Erickson switched to a hydraulic motor that could lift 400 pounds at two and a half feet per second. During new testing six weeks later the hydraulic system performed very satisfactorily, leading to its adoption for service use.
Sperry Gyroscope Company Submitted a Brief Report On Automatic Flight Control System for a Helicopter
August 11, 1944-Dr. M. F. Bates of the Sperry Gyroscope Company submitted a brief report of the trial installation and flight test of a helicopter automatic pilot (cyclic pitch control) in an HNS-1 at CGAS Floyd Bennett Field.
New Bureau of Aeronautics Color Specification Went into Effect
October 7, 1944-A new Bureau of Aeronautics color specification went into effect which provided seven different color schemes for aircraft depending upon design and use. The most basic change was the use of glossy sea blue all over on carrier based aircraft and on seaplane transports, trainers and utility aircraft. The basic non-specular camouflage color scheme, semigloss blue above and nonspecular white below, was to be applied to patrol and patrol bombing types and to helicopters. For antisubmarine warfare, two special camouflage schemes–gray on top and sides and white on bottom, or white all over–were prescribed with the selection dependent upon prevailing weather conditions (this had been used by COMNAVAIRLANT since 19 July 1943). All aluminum was to be used on landplane transports and trainers and landplane and amphibian utility aircraft. Orange-yellow was to be used upon target-towing aircraft and primary trainers. Another new scheme, glossy red, was specified for target drones.
Recognition of the Future Importance of Turbojet and Turboprop Powerplants
November 6, 1944-Recognition of the future importance of turbojet and turboprop powerplants led the Bureau of Aeronautics to request the Naval Air Material Center to study requirements for a laboratory to develop and test gas-turbine powerplants. This initiated action which led to the establishment of the Naval Air Turbine Test Station, Trenton, N.J.
Three Evacuation Squadrons (VE) were Established in the Pacific
December 12, 1944-Three Evacuation Squadrons (VE) were established in the Pacific from Air Sea Rescue Squadron elements already providing evacuation services.
The Navy Accepted Three Prototypes of the Sikorsky XR-6, Navy Designation XHOS-1
September 1944. – The Navy accepted three prototypes of the Sikorsky XR-6, Navy designation XHOS-1. Under Sikorsky license, Nash-Kelvinator in Detroit began production of the HOS-1 in 1945. The Navy accepted 36 helicopters from Nash-Kelvinator before all war production contracts were cancelled shortly after V-J Day, 2 September 1945.
The Tandem Rotor XHRP-X Transport Helicopter Made its First Flight
March 7, 1945-The tandem rotor XHRP-X transport helicopter, built under Navy contract by P-V Engineering Forum made its first flight at the contractor’s plant at Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania with Frank N. Piasecki as pilot and George N. Towson as copilot.
CDR Erickson Reported that a Dipping Sonar Suspended from a XHOS-1 Helicopter Performed Successfully
March 7, 1945. – CDR Erickson reported that a dipping sonar suspended from a XHOS-1 helicopter performed successfully. LT Steward Graham conducted the test. He soon became the principal test pilot developing helicopter antisubmarine equipment and tactics.
Patrol Squadrons of Fleet Air Wing 1 Conducted Long-Range Antishipping Search
March 18, 1945 June 21,1945-Patrol squadrons of Fleet Air Wing 1, based on seaplane tenders at Kerama Retto, conducted long-range antishipping search over the East China Sea to protect assault forces from enemy surface force interference, flew antisubmarine patrols in the immediate area, and provided air-sea rescue services for carrier operations from D minus 1 day to the end of the campaign.
Navy Awarded McDonnell Aircraft a Contract to Build a Prototype of the XHJD-1 Whirlaway helicopter
March 23, 1945. – The Navy awarded McDonnell Aircraft Co. a contract to build a prototype of the XHJD-1 Whirlaway helicopter, to be used as a research platform. Using the side-by-side design, the Whirlaway was the first twin-engine, twin-rotor helicopter built in the U.S. After completing a 250 hours technology development program, the Whirlaway, was donated to the National Air and Space Museum in 1951.
LT August Kleisch, USCG Helicopter Pilot Number 5, Flying an HNS-1 helicopter, Completed a Three-Day-Long Rescue
May 2, 1945. – LT August Kleisch, USCG helicopter pilot number 5, flying an HNS-1 helicopter, completed a three-day-long rescue of eleven Canadian airmen marooned after a plane crash in northern Labrador. The event brought worldwide attention to the novel new aircraft with a unique capability.
Victory in Europe V-E Day Declared by The President
May 8, 1945-V-E Day–The President proclaimed the end of the war in Europe
President Harry S. Truman Issued an Executive Order Returning Control of the U.S. Coast Guard to the Treasury Department.
January 1, 1946. – On this day President Harry S. Truman issued an executive order returning control of the U.S. Coast Guard to the Treasury Department. However, the Coast Guard remained involved in the test and development of the helicopter as an ASW platform until 1951.
March 1, 1946-Operation Frostbite–Midway with elements of Air Group 74 on board, and accompanied by three destroyers, left Norfolk under command of Rear Admiral John H. Cassady to conduct cold weather tests in Davis Strait. In the period 7-22 March, these units operated as a carrier task force off the coast of Labrador and above the Arctic Circle, conducting flight operations with World War II type aircraft and the newer F8F Bearcat, the combination prop and jet FR-1 Fireball, and the HNS-1 helicopter.
The XHJD-1, the First Twin Engine Helicopter, made a Hovering Flight
March 25, 1946-The XHJD-1, the first twin engine helicopter, made a hovering flight. Designed for the Navy by the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, this helicopter was intended for experimental use in a flight development program and for tactical use in utility and air-sea rescue operations.
The Navy Successfully Completed the Operational Test of the Hayes XCF Dipping Sonar
May 22, 1946. – The Navy successfully completed the operational test of the Hayes XCF dipping sonar off the coast of Key West, FL. LT Steward Graham, USCG, flew a HO2S-1 with the sonar suspended underneath. Using a captured German submarine as the target, the sonar provided good detection ranges and accurate bearings.
A Sikorsky S-51 Civilian Helicopter, Performed Plane Guard Duties aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42)
Summer of 1946. – A Sikorsky S-51 civilian helicopter, piloted by Dimitri “Jimmy” Viner, Igor Sikorsky’s nephew, performed plane guard duties aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) during a Caribbean cruise. Jimmy Viner rescued several pilots that had to ditch near the carrier, and one sailor that was blown off the flight deck. These incidents sold the Navy on the concept of helicopter plane guard during carrier flight operations.
Navy Established a New Squadron, VX-3, at NAS New York
July 1, 1946. – The Navy established a new squadron, VX-3, at NAS New York with the mission to train helicopter pilots and other personnel and to develop the tactical employment of helicopters. VX-3 immediately resumed the training of helicopter pilots, a duty previously assigned to the Coast Guard. On 10 September of that year, VX-3 moved to NAS Lakehurst, NJ, and continued training pilots.
Sabena Airlines DC-4 Helicopter Rescue near Gander, Newfoundland
September 18, 1946. – A Sabena Airlines DC-4 crashed near Gander, Newfoundland, on a flight from Brussels to New York. Seventeen people survived the crash, but they were trapped in a heavily wooded area in the middle of a large bog. The survivors, many seriously injured, would not survive over-land evacuation. In less than 48 hours two helicopters, an HNS-1 and an HOS-1, were disassembled at Floyd Bennett Field, NY, loaded on a C-54, flown to the Gander Airport, reassembled and tested. The pilots, CDR Frank Erickson, LT Stewart Graham, LT Walter Bolton, and LT August Kleisch, made repeated flights between the crash site and Gander Lake to extract all 17 survivors. This event brought international recognition to the helicopter rescue capabilities.
In Preparation for Operation High Jump, the First Post-War Antarctic Expedition
September 1946. – In preparation for Operation High Jump, the first post-war Antarctic expedition, the Navy bought four off-the-shelf S-51s, Navy designation HO3S-1. They were assigned to VX-3. .
The Navy Receives First HO3S-1 Helicopters with Blade-Folding Rotors
November 1946. – The Navy began to receive the first of the new HO3S-1 helicopters equipped with blade-folding rotors and externally mounted rescue hoists. They were based on several warship classes, mainly the aircraft carriers, seaplane tenders, icebreakers, cruises, and battleships. The HO3S-1 was the first Navy helicopter to replace some fixed wing aircraft in the fleet. By late 1949 the HO3S-1 had totally replaced the small seaplanes carried by cruises and battleships.
First Helicopter to Fly Over the Antartic
December 25, 1946. – An HO3S-1 piloted by LCDR Walter M. Sessums became the first helicopter to fly over the Antarctic.
New Specification for Aircraft Color
January 2, 1947-A new specification for aircraft color was issued providing for the use of glossy sea blue on all shipboard and water based aircraft and all helicopters; aluminum was retained for landplane transports, utility planes and advanced training planes; and glossy orange yellow was similarly retained for primary trainers. Special color schemes included land camouflage (olive drab above and light gray below) for Marine observation planes; glossy insignia red for target drones; target towing aircraft were to have glossy orange yellow wings, and glossy sea blue fuselage with glossy insignia red wing bands and rudder.
Navy Sikorsky HO3S-1 Rescues Pilot in the Atlantic
February 9, 1947. – A Sikorsky HO3S-1 that was being evaluated by CTF-2 in the Atlantic picked up LT Frank A. Shields, a SB2C pilot that had to ditch near the carrier USS Leyte, and deposited him safely on the carrier deck in just six minutes.
The Adaptation of the Helicopter to Amphibious Warfare was Initiated
July 24, 1947-The adaptation of the helicopter to amphibious warfare was initiated when the Chief of Naval Operations established a requirement for a type capable of transporting assault troops from an escort carrier and setting them down ashore along with their necessary combat equipment and supplies.
The Army Transferred Ten Bell Model 47 Helicopters to the Navy
February 1947. – The Army transferred ten Bell Model 47 helicopters to the Navy for evaluation as HTL-1 trainers. Subsequent buys of more advance models increased the total Navy acquisition of HTLs to 187. Starting in April 1948, some were assigned to HU-1 and HU-2 and used aboard icebreakers. Some were used by the Marines in liaison, transport, and casualty evacuation roles. The majority was used as primary trainers in HU-2, and later in HTU-1 at Ellyson Field, Pensacola. They remained in service as primary trainers until 16 May 1968.
Marine Helicopter Experimental Squadron One, HMX-1, was Established
December 1, 1947. – Marine Helicopter Experimental Squadron One, HMX-1, was established at MCAS Quantico, VA, under the command of Colonel Edward C. Dyer. The new squadron’s mission was to develop techniques and tactics for the use of helicopters in amphibious operations. By February 1948 the Marine Corps had equipped HMX-1 with six HO3S-1s. HMX-1 would later assume the responsibility to provide helicopter transport to the President of the United States.
Piasecki’s XHJP-1 Tandem Rotor Helicopter Began Flight-Testing
March 1948. – Piasecki’s XHJP-1 tandem rotor helicopter began flight-testing at the factory in Philadelphia. After successful completion of NATC evaluation, the redesignated HUP-1 entered production in 1950. The initial order of 32 HUP-1s was followed by another order for 165 HUP-2s, which were fitted with the more powerful R-975-46, 550 hp engine. The HUPs were assigned to HU-1 and HU-2, and eventually replaced the less capable HO3Ss.
VX-3, HU-1 and HU-2 disestablished/established at Lakehurst
April 1, 1948. – VX-3 was disestablished. That same day Helicopter Utility Squadron One (HU-1) and Helicopter Utility Squadron Two (HU-2) were established at NAS Lakehurst, with many of VX-3 personnel making a lateral transfer to the new squadrons. HU-1 was moved to NAAS Miramar, San Diego, CA, shortly thereafter. The primary mission of both squadrons was to provide helicopter detachments to be deployed on ships of the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. HU-2 also took over the responsibility for helicopter pilot training. Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River added rotary wing branch.
CNO Issued New Standards for Training Aviators as Helicopter Pilots
June 11, 1948. – The CNO issued new standards for training aviators as helicopter pilots and decreed that helicopter pilots previously trained by the Coast Guard or VX-3 would retain their qualification.
Piasecki Delivered 338 HUP Helicopters
January, 1949-Piasecki delivered 338 HUP helicopters to HU-2 (as XHUP-1, HUP 1-2S, H-25A). Last reported in inventory at VU-1, HU-1 on 08/31/64.
CNO Authorized all New Construction Cruisers to be accomodated for Helicopters
January 27, 1949-The Chief of Naval Operations authorized conversion of all new-construction cruisers to accommodate helicopters.
Longest Unescorted Helicopter Transcontinental Flight on Record
April 3, 1949. – LT Steward Graham and his crewman, AM2 Robert McAuliffe, completed the longest unescorted helicopter transcontinental flight on record. They flew a HO3S-1G from the Coast Guard Air Station, Elizabeth City, NC, to the Port Angeles Coast Guard Air Station in Washington State, via San Diego, CA, covering a distance of 3,750 miles in 57.6 flight-time hours over a period of ten and a half days, proving the helicopter’s suitability for extended operations.
The Last of the Observation Squadron, VO-2 Disestablished
April 5, 1949. – The disestablishing of the last of the observation squadron, VO-2, marked the end of one era and the beginning of another as a plan to use helicopters in place of fixed-wing aircraft aboard battleships and cruisers was put into effect, with the changeover scheduled for completion by 30 June. he disestablishing of the last of the observation squadrons, VO-2, marked the end of one era and the beginning of another as a plan to use helicopters in place of fixed-wing aircraft aboard battleships and cruisers was put into effect, with the changeover scheduled for completion by 30 June.
The First Use in the United States of a Pilot-Ejection Seat
August 9, 1949. – The first use in the United States of a pilot-ejection seat for an emergency escape, was made by Lieutenant J. L. Fruin of VF-171 from an F2H-1 Banshee while making over 500 knots in the vicinity of Walterboro, S.C.
Sikorsky helicopter, HO3S Long Distance Flight
November 30, 1949 – Lieutenant G. A. Rullo and M. D. Kembro, CAP, flew a Sikorsky helicopter, HO3S, from NAS Seattle to NAS Alameda in 10 hours and 50 minutes and unofficially bettered the existing distance record for helicopters with a flight of 755 miles
Kaman Aircraft Delivered Two K-225 Helicopters
March 1950. – Kaman Aircraft delivered two K-225 helicopters to NATC, Patuxent River, for test and evaluation. Successful results encouraged the Navy to place an order for new observation helicopters, designated HOK-1, to be used by the Marines in Korea.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1950 till 1960
Navy purchases Ten H-19s, Navy Designation HO4S-1
April 28, 1950. – The Navy purchased ten H-19s, Navy designation HO4S-1, for evaluation in the helicopter ASW project. A total of 129 HO4Ss were delivered to the Navy between August 1950 and January 1958. They were used by the HS Squadrons in their ASW configuration. The HO4S was the first antisubmarine helicopter to operate from aircraft carriers. The utility version was used by the HU squadrons, by the Air Stations, and as advanced trainer in HTG-1, Ellyson Field, Pensacola.
3500 Mile Helicopter Flight in 62.5 Hours
July 1950–Distance: 3.500 Miles (5.632 Km) in 62.5 hours
Route: from Boston Squantum Naval Air Station Maryland to North Island Naval Air Station San Diego California
Pilot: Lt. Conrad Larson Pilot
Crewman: AD1. Gerald Dwight.
VMO-6 Equipped with the HO3S Helicopters
August 3, 1950. – Elements of VMO-6 equipped with the HO3S helicopters began operations in support of the First Provisional Marine Brigade in the vicinity of Changwon, South Korea. The helicopters were put to use immediately delivering rations and water to the troops on a mountain, and evacuating casualties..
HO3S Evacuated a cCasualty from a Korean Firefight
August 4, 1950. – An HO3S evacuated a casualty from a firefight along the Pusan perimeter; five more were evacuated the next day. This event marked the beginning of one of the most dramatic and important uses of the helicopter in the Korean War. Helicopter medevac would revolutionize the triage of battlefield casualties and significantly decrease the mortality rate.
Flight of a Helicopter under Automatic Control was Made
August 7, 1950. – Flight of a helicopter under automatic control was made at Mustin Field, Philadelphia using an HO3S-1 helicopter equipped with a single axis automatic pilot. Successful test of this instrument confirmed the feasibility of a helicopter automatic pilot which was being developed under the leadership of L. S. Guarino at the Aeronautical Instrument Laboratory, Naval Air Material Center.
Navy Awards Kaman Contract for the HTK-1Helicopter
September 1950. – The Navy awarded Kaman a contract for a trainer, the HTK-1, an improved K-225 design. The first HTK-1 flew in April 1951. A total of 29 HTK-1s were delivered to the Navy between November1951 and October 1953. They were used as utility helicopters at Naval Air Stations all over the world before they were sent to Pensacola, where they were redesignated TH-43As and used as trainers until 1957.
HO3S-1 Helicopter Successfully Flown with Automatic Pilot
September 23, 1950-An HO3S-1 helicopter, equipped with an automatic pilot developed by the Aeronautical Instruments Laboratory, was successfully flown with three axis automatic control at Mustin Field, Philadelphia.
Ellyson Auxiliary Landing Field (ALF) was Established.
December 3, 1950. – Ellyson Auxiliary Landing Field (ALF) and its main tenant, Helicopter Training Unit One (HTU-1) were established. HTU-1 took over the training of helicopter pilots from HU-2, based at NAS Lakehurst. HTU-1 used the Bell HTL-4 (TH-13) and Hiller HTE-1/-2 as primary trainers. Advance training was conducted in the Sikorsky HO3S-1 and the Piasecki HUP-2. The HTEs were retired by late 1952.
First Helicopter Pilot Medal of Honor
July 3, 1951. – Late in the afternoon, LTJG John K. Koelsch, serving with a HU-2 detachment embarked on an LST off the coast of Wonsan, North Korea, launched to rescue a Marine F4U pilot that had bailed out 35 miles inside enemy territory. Without RESCAP protection due to poor visibility, LTJG Koelsch located the survivor and began hoisting him aboard when enemy fire downed his HO3S-1 helicopter. LTJG Koelsch, his crewman, AM3 George M. Neal, and the F4U pilot, CAPT James V. Wilkins, survived the crash and hid in the mountains, evading enemy patrols for three days. Then they began to slowly make their way down to the coast. Six days later they reached a coastal village and hid in a hut. They were captured the next day. In the months that followed LTJG Koelsch refused to submit to his interrogators and was tortured mercilessly. His fortitude, personal bravery, and consideration to others were sources of high morale and inspiration to his fellow prisoners. John Koelsch died of malnutrition and dysentery in a North Korean POW Camp on 16 October 1951. On August 3, 1955, LTJG John Kelvin Koelsch was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Korea. He was the first helicopter pilot to be awarded the Medal of Honor. AM3 Neal was awarded the Navy Cross.
Marines Receive New Sikorsky S-52 Utility Helicopter, Navy Designation HO5S-1
September 1951. – The Marines began to receive the new Sikorsky S-52 utility helicopter, Navy designation HO5S-1. It was used for medevac, gunfire spotting, reconnaissance, and general utility work. The HO5S-1 was handicapped by being underpowered. In spite of this handicap, it was used extensively by VMO-6 in Korea. After the war the HO5S-1 was used as a trainer by the Marines in New River, NC. It was retired from service in the late 1950s.
Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 161, Equipped with HRS-1s, arrived Pusan, Korea
September 2, 1951–Marine Helicopter Transport Squadron 161, equipped with HRS-1s, arrived Pusan, Korea, aboard Sitkoh Bay and flew ashore prepared to perform transport, assault, and supply missions for the First Marine Division. On 13 September it began its support of the First Marine Division with Operation Windmill I. In this initial combat test of transport helicopter capabilities, the squadron lifted one day’s supplies for the First Marine Battalion on a 7-mile carry from its base to the forward area.
Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron One (HS-1) Established at NAS Key West
October 3, 1951. – Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron One (HS-1) was established at NAS Key West, FL. After the squadron establishment, LCDR Graham, who led the seven-year-long development effort that made this event possible, reported to NATC, Patuxent River for duty as a helicopter test pilot.
Marines Using HRS-1 Helicopters From HMR-161 Insert Nearly 1,000 Troops
.October 11, 1951. – Marines wrote a new chapter in military history. Using HRS-1 helicopters, HMR-161 aircrews inserted nearly 1,000 Marines atop a 3,000-foot mountain near the front lines. Over a period of six hours a dozen HRSs flew a total of 156 sorties. The success of this operation marked the first implementation of the vertical assault concept.
Navy-Sponsored Kaman K-225 Fitted with a Boeing YB-502, 190 shp Turbine Engine
December 12, 1951. – In a Navy-sponsored technology program, a Kaman K-225 fitted with a Boeing YB-502, 190 shp turbine engine performed its maiden flight. This was the first gas turbine-powered helicopter in the world. With the advent of the gas turbine engine, the helicopter finally found its ideal power plant.
Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Two (HS-2) Golden Falcons Established at ALF Ream Field, Imperial Beach, CA
March 7, 1952. – Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Two (HS-2) was established at ALF Ream Field, Imperial Beach, CA. HS-2 was the first antisubmarine warfare helicopter squadron on the West Coast. Initially, it deployed small detachments flying the Sikorsky HO4S-2 helicopter. The HO4S was replaced by the HSS-1 (SH-34J) early in 1955.
HS-3 was Established
June 18, 1952 – HS-3 was established at Naval Air Facility, Elizabeth City, NC.
HS-4 was Established
June 30, 1952 — HS-4 was established at ALF Ream Field, Imperial Beach Ca.
Navy Awarded Sikorsky a Contract for a Prototype, Designated the XHSS-1
June 30, 1952. – Looking for a more capable helicopter to replace the HO4S in the ASW role, the Navy awarded Sikorsky a contract for a prototype, designated the XHSS-1. The XHSS-1 first flew on 8 March 1954. Production deliveries started in early 1955. The Navy accepted a total of 385 HSS-1s, the last aircraft being delivered in April 1966. The HSS-1 served with the Helicopter ASW squadrons until replaced by the HSS-2 (SH-3A) in 1961. In 1962 all military services adopted the USAF aircraft designation system. The UH-34D, the utility version of the HSS-1, replaced the HO4S-1 as the advance helicopter trainer in HT-8, Ellyson Field, Pensacola, in mid-1963.
VX-1 Pilots Flying a HRP-1 Helicopter Demonstrates Feasibility of Helicopter Towing Minesweeping Equipment
November 18, 1952. – VX-1 pilots flying a HRP-1 helicopter off the coast of Panama City, Florida, demonstrated the feasibility of using a helicopter to tow minesweeping equipment. This was the first of a series of tests.
Navy Sponsor in 1953 Kaman Aircraft Development of Remote-Piloted Helicopter Drones
March 1953. – Under Navy sponsorship, in 1953 Kaman Aircraft began development of remote-piloted helicopter drones. In the spring of that year an HTK-1K, nicknamed the “Yellow Peril,” began remote-controlled flight-testing. These tests continued through the mid-1950s, always carrying a safety pilot in the cockpit. On 23 May 1957 a drone HTK-1 helicopter, with a safety pilot onboard, operated by remote control from the small deck of USS Mitscher (DL-2) underway in Narragansett Bay. On 30 July 1957, in a test conducted at the Kaman plant in Bloomfield, Connecticut, a modified HTK-1 drone completed its first unmanned flight.
HS-2 First ASW Squadron to deploy to Westpac
April 1953–HS-2 First ASW Squadron to deploy to Westpac.
Kaman’s XHOK-1 Prototype First Flight
April 21, 1953. – Kaman’s XHOK-1 prototype performed its first flight. It proved to be a very capable helicopter. Deliveries to the Marines started that same month. A total of 81 HOK-1s powered by a 600hp R-1340-48 engine were assigned to the VMO squadrons. The Navy bought 24 HUK-1s, the Navy version of the HOK-1, powered by the R-1340-52 engine. The last HUK-1 was delivered in December 1958. They were initially assigned to the helicopter utility squadrons.
The Marine Corps XHR2S-1 Flew for the First Time.
December 18, 1953. – The XHR2S-1 flew for the first time. This was the first twin-engine helicopter built by Sikorsky. It used two Pratt and Whitney R-2800-5, 2100 hp radial engines and a five-blade main rotor. The contract, signed on 9 May 1951, called for a helicopter capable of transporting twenty fully loaded soldiers. Deliveries to HMX-1 began in July 1956. Between 1956 and 1959 the Marines accepted 59 units. The re-designated CH-37s served with HMR (M)-461, based at MCAS New River, NC, and HMH-462, based at MCAF Santa Ana, CA. They were retired from service on both squadrons in 1966, being replaced by the much more capable CH-53As.
Kaman Fitted an Experimental HTK-1 with Two B-502 Turbines
March 1954. – Kaman fitted an experimental HTK-1 with two B-502 turbines, this becoming the world’s first twin-turbine powered helicopter.
First Tilt-Rotor V/STOL
July 6, 1954. – In 1945 Robert Lichten, a Platt-LePage Aircraft Co. engineer, and Mario Guerierri, a Kellett Aircraft Co. engineer, teamed up and formed Transcendental Aircraft. They developed the first tilt-rotor V/STOL convertiplane in the U.S., the Model 1-G, a 1,750-pound aircraft with two 17-foot diameter rotors powered by a 160-hp engine. After a long and difficult ground-testing period, which included an accident in 1951, the Model 1-G finally achieved free flight on 6 July 1954. It achieved 80 degrees conversions in December of that year. On 20 July 1955, after logging 23 hours, the Model 1-G crashed in the Delaware River and was lost.
The Flying Platform
January 21, 1955–The Flying Platform, a one-man helicopter of radical design, made its first flight at the Hiller plant in Palo Alto, Calif. Although the flight occurred during ground tests and was therefore accidental, it was successful in all respects.
First Bell XV-3 Tilt-Rotor Prototype Rolled Out on 10 February 1955
August 11, 1955. – The first Bell XV-3 tilt-rotor prototype rolled out on 10 February 1955, and first hovered on 11 August of that year. It featured two 23-foot diameter three-bladed rotors mounted on long masts. After two months of testing, the aircraft crashed. A second prototype with shorter masts and two-bladed rotors followed. After a series of wind tunnel tests and hover tests, the XV-3 made its first transition to forward flight on 17 December 1958. Seven years of exhaustive testing followed. After 375 wind tunnel and ground test hours, 250 test flights (125 flight hours) and over 110 full conversions, the XV-3 firmly established the feasibility of the tilt-rotor convertiplane.
Bureau of Aeronautics issued instructions describing new color schemes
February 16, 1955–The Bureau of Aeronautics issued instructions describing new color schemes that would be used on all new Navy and Marine Corps aircraft beginning 1 July 1955 and applied on all currently operating aircraft within the next 2 years. The familiar sea blue was changed to light gull gray on top and glossy white below for carrier aircraft, all over seaplane gray for water based aircraft and all over light gull gray for helicopters. Bare aluminum was retained for utility types and land plane transports, the latter having in addition a solar heat reflecting white top. Orange-yellow remained the color for primary trainers but the advanced trainer scheme was changed to international orange and insignia white. Other changes were olive drab above and glossy white below for land observation types and a combination of orange-yellow, engine gray and insignia red for target drones and target tow aircraft..
CVHE for Escort Helicopter Aircraft Carrier
May12, 1955–The classification of naval vessels was revised to provide the designation CVHE for Escort Helicopter Aircraft Carrier and CVU for Utility Aircraft Carrier. The carriers were re-designated 1 month later.
December 24, 1955-A single USCG HO4S Helicopter Rescues 138
December 24, 1955-A single USCG HO4S Helicopter rescues 138 persons over a 12 hour period during a flood disaster at Yuba City/Marysville, California.
USS Thetis Bay CVE-90 Re-Commissioned CVHA-1, First Helicopter Assault Carrier
July 20, 1956. – After completing the conversion to the new mission at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard, USS Thetis Bay, the old CVE-90, was re-commissioned as CVHA-1, the first helicopter assault carrier in the U.S. Navy. On May 28, 1959, while on her first deployment to WESTPAC, Thetis Bay was redesignated Landing Platform Helicopter Six (LPH-6). She carried a Marine Assault Team of about 1,000 combat troops and the helicopter assets to transport them ashore during the vertical assault phase of an amphibious landing.
Transcendental Model 2 Tilt-Rotor Aircraft Completed
October 1956. – Construction of the Transcendental Model 2 tilt-rotor aircraft was completed. With a 250 hp engine and two 18-foot diameter rotors, the aircraft offered greater payload capability. It began flight-testing near the end of the year. The Model 2 could not compete with the Bell XV-3, causing Transcendental to close shop in 1957.
The carrier Saipan with Helicopter Training Unit HTU-1
October 10, 1955–The carrier Saipan with Helicopter Training Unit HTU-1 aboard, left Tampico, Mexico, after a week of disaster relief operations for the inhabitants of the area. During these operations, the helicopters rescued 5,439 persons marooned on rooftops, trees and other retreats, and delivered 183,017 pounds of food and medical supplies, thus earning the commendation of the Task Group Commander and the best wishes of a thankful people.
A Sikorsky HR2S helicopter Sets New Records
9–A Sikorsky HR2S helicopter, piloted by Major R. L. Anderson, USMC, at Windsor Locks, Conn., began a 3-day assault on world records, setting three new marks as follows: 9 November, carried a payload of 11,050 pounds to an altitude over 12,000 feet; 10 November, carried 13,250 pounds to over 7,000 feet; and 11 November, set a speed record of 162.7 m.p.h. over a three-kilometer course.
U.S. Marines Began to Receive the HUS-1 (UH-34)
January 1957. – The U.S. Marines began to receive the HUS-1 (UH-34). They used it extensively in Vietnam as troop transport. The Marines also fitted some HUS helicopters with “Temporary Kit One” (TK-1), which comprised two M60C machine guns and two pods with nineteen 2.75-inch rockets each. These improvised gunships did not perform as expected and were quickly phased out. In 1960 NATC conducted tests to establish the feasibility of launching Bullpup air-to-surface missiles from an HUS-1. These tests were completed on 3 June 1960. The program, however, never advanced beyond the test phase. On 18 August 1969 the last Marine UH34D in Vietnam was retired from HMM-362 at Phu Bai.
January 3, 1956—HS-5 Established at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
Early Drone Anti Submarine Helicopter (DASH) Weapons System
April 2, 1958. – The Navy awarded Gyrodyne Company a contract to modify its RON-1 Rotorcycle small two coaxial rotors helicopter to explore its use as a remote-controlled drone capable of operating from small decks carrying ASW weapons. Another contract followed on 31 December 1958 to build nine QH-50A (DSN-1) and three QH-50B (DSN-2) ASW drone helicopters for the new Drone Anti Submarine Helicopter (DASH) weapons system. The QH-50As were used as evaluation prototypes for the airborne segment of the system.
June 1, 1956—HS-9 Established at Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island.
Birth of the Huey Helicopter-1st flight of the Bell XH-40
October 20, 1956– This day in heli history – October 20, 1956: Birth of the Huey – 1st flight of the XH-40.
A Drone HTK-1 Helicopter
May 23, 1957–A drone HTK-1 helicopter, carrying a safety pilot, operated from the fantail of Mitscher (DL 2) in the vicinity of Narragansett Bay. These tests and others, conducted in February off Key West, in which a piloted HUL-1 carried Mk 43 torpedoes in flights to and from the Mitscher, demonstrated the feasibility of assigning torpedo carrying drone helicopters to destroyers and led to the development of the Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH) which was later embodied in the QH-50C.
June 27, 1957—HS-11 Established as Jacksonville Florida.
The First Pilotless Helicopter Flight was Made
July 30, 1957–The first pilotless helicopter flight was made at Bloomfield, Conn. Built by Kaman Aircraft, under joint Army-Navy contract, the new helicopter was designed on the basis of principles developed experimentally under Navy contract using a modified HTK.
Early Drone Anti Submarine Helicopter (DASH) Weapons System
April 2, 1958. – The Navy awarded Gyrodyne Company a contract to modify its RON-1 Rotorcycle small two coaxial rotors helicopter to explore its use as a remote-controlled drone capable of operating from small decks carrying ASW weapons. Another contract followed on 31 December 1958 to build nine QH-50A (DSN-1) and three QH-50B (DSN-2) ASW drone helicopters for the new Drone Anti Submarine Helicopter (DASH) weapons system. The QH-50As were used as evaluation prototypes for the airborne segment of the system.
Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet Forms of a New Amphibious Squadron
October 21, 1958. – The Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet, announced the formation of a new Amphibious Squadron composed of USS Boxer (CVS-21) and four LSDs equipped with helicopter platforms. Boxer was being used as an experimental helicopter carrier. She was redesignated LPH-4 on 30 January1959. The newly formed squadron’s mission was to deploy a “vertical envelopment team” of Marine combat troops and helicopters.
The XHSS-2 Sea King First Prototype Performed its Maiden Flight
March 11, 1959. – The XHSS-2 Sea King first prototype performed its maiden flight. The helicopter was especially designed to be an all-weather dipping sonar platform. It was equipped with Doppler radar integrated in an automatic approach and hover system. This system made the HSS-2 a significantly safer night ASW operations platform than prior machines. The HSS-2 joined the fleet in September 1961. In 1962, under the new DoD standardized system, the HSS-2 became the SH-3A.
Kaman Began Flight-Testing the First Prototype of the UH-2 Seasprite Helicopter
June 1959. – Kaman began flight-testing the first prototype of the UH-2 Seasprite helicopter. After completing evaluation at NATC, Patuxent River, the Navy began to accept deliveries of the UH-2A and UH-2B models in December 1962, these two models only differing in electronic equipment. The UH-2 was delivered to HU-1 and HU-2 for service with detachments aboard aircraft carriers.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1960
The Department of Defense Announced Two New Developments in Airborne Mine Countermeasures
February 29, 1960. – The Department of Defense announced that two new developments in airborne mine countermeasures had been successfully demonstrated to Navy and Defense officials by the Navy Mine Defense Laboratory and the Navy Air Mine Defense Development Unit at Panama City, FL. The first was an air-portable mine sweeping gear that enabled a helicopter to become a self-sufficient aerial minesweeper. The second was equipment for transferring the minesweeping gear towline from a surface minesweeper to a helicopter, from one helicopter to another, or from a helicopter to a surface minesweeper.
Bullpup Air to Air Missile Fired from Marine Corps Helicopter
June 3, 1960–Test launchings of Bullpup air-to-surface missiles from a Marine Corps HUS-1 helicopter were successfully completed at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River.
HS-4 Rescued 53 Merchant Seamen
June 10,1960–Seven helicopters of HS-4 from Yorktown rescued 53 merchant seamen from the British freighter Shun Lee which was breaking up on Pratas Reef, 500 miles northwest of Manila. Under storm conditions in the wake of typhoon Mary, the helicopter took 25 men from the wreck and 28 more from Pratas Island inside the reef.
July 1, 1960—HU-4 was established at Lakehurst, New Jersey.
July 1, 1960–HS-10 was established at NALF Imperial Beach, Ca.
QH-50A (DASH) was Flown by Remote Control from a Shore Base to USS Mitscher (DL-2)
July 1, 1960. – A QH-50A was flown by remote control from a shore base to USS Mitscher (DL-2), underway in the Long Island Sound. The QH-50A was maneuvered about the ship and to a position over the flight deck before the safety pilot in the aircraft took control and landed. On 12 August, at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, an unmanned QH-50A made its first free flight. On 7 December a QH-50A made the first unmanned landing aboard USS Hazelwood (DD-531) at sea off Key West, FL. A sequence of 38 flights, including 22 simulated ASW missions, followed. Hazelwood became the trial ship for DASH development.
Navy HRS-3 Helicopter made First Recovery of an Object from Orbit
August 11, 1960–In the first recovery of an object after it had been in orbit, a Navy HRS-3 helicopter, operating from the Haiti Victory of the Pacific Missile Range, recovered the instrumented capsule discharged by Discoverer XIII on its 17th pass around the earth. The capsule was located about 330 miles northwest of Honolulu by Air Force planes which directed the ship toward the spot. Recovery was made less than three hours after the capsule hit the water.
First Free Flight of a Drone Helicopter
August 12, 1960–A QH-50A drone made the world’s first free flight of an unmanned helicopter [DASH]
Helicopters from HS-3 and HU-2 Rescue 27 Men
December 22, 1960–Helicopters of HS-3 and HU-2 from Valley Forge rescued 27 men from the oiler SS Pine Ridge as she was breaking up in heavy seas 100 miles off Cape Hatteras.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1961
1961 Golden Anniversary of Naval Aviation
1961–The year 1961 marked the golden anniversary of Naval Aviation. It was a year filled with many nostalgic memories of past glories and also a year in which Naval Aviation attained new stature as an effective fighting force. One nuclear powered and two conventionally powered attack carriers joined the operating forces, perhaps the greatest array of carrier-air might added during peace time to any fleet in a single year. Before the decade was out, two more attack carriers were commissioned and another was taking form on the ways. Four new amphibious assault ships, and others built to exploit the unique capabilities of helicopters in vertical assault and replenishment, joined the fleet. New high performance aircraft went into operation. Vertical and short takeoff and landing aircraft were developed; one went into service. New types of missiles appeared and such old standbys as Sparrow and Sidewinder were given new capabilities. On the other side of the ledger, the blimp and the flying boat, long familiar figures in Naval Aviation, became victims of the relentless march of technology.
Marine Corps Helicopter Recovers Mercury Capsule
January 31, 1961–A Marine Corps helicopter of HMR(L)-262 made an at sea recovery of a Mercury capsule, bearing the chimpanzee Ham, after it had completed a 15-minute flight reaching 155 miles high and 420 miles down range. The capsule was launched by a Redstone rocket from Cape Canaveral in a preliminary test for manned space flight
World Ballon Altitude Record
May 4, 1961–A world record balloon altitude of 113,739.9 feet was reached in a two-place open gondola Strato-lab flight by Commander Malcolm D. Ross and Lieutenant Commander Victor A. Prather (MC). Launched from Antietam off the mouth of the Mississippi, the balloon, which was the largest ever employed on manned flight, reached its maximum altitude 2 hours and 36 minutes after takeoff 136 miles south of Mobile, Ala. This achievement was marred by the death of Lieutenant Commander Prather who fell from the sling of the recovery helicopter and died on board the carrier about an hour after being pulled from the water.
First American in Space
May 5, 1961–Commander Alan B. Shepard became the first American to go into space as he completed a flight reaching 116 miles high and 302 miles down range from Cape Canaveral. His space capsule, Freedom 7, was launched by a Redstone rocket and recovered at sea by an HUS-1 helicopter of Marine Corps Squadron HMR(L)-262 which transported it and Commander Shepard to Lake Champlain.
HSS-2 Helicopter Speed Record
May 17, 1961–An HSS-2 helicopter flown by Commander Patrick L. Sullivan and Lieutenant Beverly W. Witherspoon, set a new world class speed record of 192.9 m.p.h. for 3 kilometers at Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Conn.
HSS-2 Helicopter Sets Another Speed Record
May 24, 1961–Commander P. L. Sullivan and Lieutenant B. W. Witherspoon, flying an HSS-2 helicopter set another new world class speed record with a mark of 174.9 m.p.h. over a 100-kilometer course between Milford and Westbrook, Conn.
Second Man in Space
July 21, 1961–Captain Virgil I. Grissom, USAF, the second American man-in-space, completed a 15 minute, 118 mile high flight 303 miles down the Atlantic Missile Range. Premature blow-off of the hatch cover caused flooding of the capsule and made its recovery impossible, but Grissom was picked up from the water by a second helicopter and delivered safely to the carrier Randolph.
USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) was Commissioned
August 26, 1961. – USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) was commissioned at Bremerton, WA. This was the first of a series of Navy ships built from the keel up as Helicopter Combat Assault carriers. Over the years, twelve LPHs were put into service, seven Iwo Jima class new-construction ships and five converted aircraft carriers. Six Tarawa class LHAs and eight Wasp class LHDs have replaced the aged LPHs, with more LHAs and LHDs in the planning stage.
September 25, 1961 – HS-13 Established at Naval Air Station Quonset Point Rhode Island.
Hurricane Hattie Naval Helicopter Relief Work
November 6, 1961–The aircraft carrier Antietam left British Honduras for Pensacola after 4 days of relief operations following hurricane Hattie. Helicopters, from Training Squadron 8 (VT-8) and Marine Helicopter Squadron (Light) 264 (HMR(L)-264), carried over 57 tons of food, water and medical supplies and transported medical and other relief personnel to the people at Belize, Stann Creek and other points hit by the hurricane.
New Helicopter Speed Record
December 1, 1961–An HSS-2 helicopter, flown by Captain Bruce K. Lloyd and Commander E. J. Roulstone, laid claim to three new world speed records over a course along Long Island Sound between Milford and Westbrook, Conn., with performances of 182.8 m.p.h., 179.5 m.p.h., and 175.3 m.p.h. for 100, 500, and 1,000 kilometers, respectively.
Another New Helicopter Speed Record
December 30, 1961–An HSS-2 helicopter flown by Commander P. L. Sullivan and Captain D. A. Spurlock, USMC, at Windsor Locks, Conn., bettered its old 3-kilometer world record at 199.01 m.p.h.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1962
Improved QH-50C (DSN-3) Completed its Maiden Flight
January 15, 1962. – The improved QH-50C (DSN-3) completed its maiden flight. It was powered by a Boeing T50-BO-8, 300 shp turbine engine, and could carry two torpedoes. Large-scale production was approved in late 1963. Three units were authorized for each of 240 FRAM-I and FRAM-II destroyers.
Navy SH3A Seaking Helicopter Establishes a New Speed Record
February 5, 1962. – An SH3A piloted by LT R. W. Crafton, USN, and CAPT L. K. Keck, USMC, established a new speed record of 210.6 mph (183 knots) on a measured track in Long Island sound.
Mercury Spacecraft Recovery
February 20, 1962–Lieutenant Colonel John H. Glenn. USMC, in Mercury spacecraft Friendship 7, was launched from Cape Canaveral by an Atlas rocket. His three turns about the earth were the first U.S. manned orbital flights. He was recovered some 166 miles east of Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas by the destroyer Noa (DD 841) and then delivered by helicopter to the carrier Randolph.
Contract Signed for Two Sikorsky YCH-53A Helicopter Prototypes
March 1962. –BuWeps issued a request for proposals for the Heavy Helicopter Experimental, HH(X), Marine Corps heavy lift helicopter for the transportation of equipment, supplies, and personnel during the assault phase of amphibious operations. After an intense competition with Boeing’s Chinook, Sikorsky won the contract in July of that year. In September 1962 the contract was signed for two YCH-53A prototypes, powered by two GE-T64-6, 2850 shp engines driving the six-bladed main rotor, four-bladed tail rotor, and gear boxes used in the S-64 Skycrane helicopter. The first prototype maiden flight occurred on 14 October 1964.
The Marine Corps Helicopters in Viet Nam
March 1962. – The US Marine Corps brings its helicopters to Vietnam for the first time during Operation SHUFLY
Another Mercury Spacecraft Recovered
May 24, 1962–Lieutenant Commander M. Scott Carpenter in Aurora 7 was launched into orbit from Cape Canaveral on the second U.S. manned orbital flight. Upon completing three orbits he returned to earth landing in the Atlantic 200 miles beyond the planned impact area. He was located by a Navy P2V, assisted by para-rescue men dropped from an Air Force RC-54 and, after almost 3 hours in the water, picked up by an HSS helicopter from Intrepid and returned safely to the carrier. His capsule was retrieved by the destroyer John R. Pierce.
Mercury Spacecraft Recovered
October 3, 1962–Sigma 7, Commander Walter M. Schirra pilot was launched into orbit by a Mercury-Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral and, after nearly six orbits and a flight of over 160,000 miles, landed in the Pacific, 275 miles northeast of Midway Island. Helicopters dropped UDT men near the capsule and it and Commander Schirra were hoisted aboard Kearsarge.
CNO Directs Conversion of a Few SH-3A Helicopters for the Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) mission.
October 16, 1962. – The CNO directed the conversion of a number of helicopters for the Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) mission. These helicopters would be used for AMCM development and training, and eventually would be deployed in fleet squadrons. The Navy selected the SH-3A for this program.
Marine Corps Transition Two Fixed Wing Squadrons to Helicopters
November 5, 1962–Two Marine Corps helicopter squadrons began, as additional duty, a transition training program in which some 500 Marine aviators qualified in fixed-wing aircraft would be trained to operate helicopters. The need for the special program arose from the increased proportion of helicopters in the Marine Corps, coupled with an overall shortage of pilots and the inability of the Naval Air Training Command to absorb the additional training load within the time schedule allotted.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1963
Naval Helicopters Fly Relief Missions in Morocco
January 7-13, 1963–Helicopters from NAS Port Lyautey, NS Rota and Springfield flew rescue and relief missions in the flooded areas of Beth and Sebou Rivers in Morocco. Over 45,000 pounds of food, medicines and emergency supplies were flown in and some 320 marooned persons were lifted to safety.
HS-9 Helicopters Make Texas Towers Rescue off Cap Cod
September 6, 1963–Five SH-3A helicopters of HS-9 based at NAS Quonset rescued 28 workmen from two Texas Towers shaken by gales and heavy seas off Cape Cod.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1964
Sikorsky Began Conversion of Nine SH-3As to the RH-3A Minesweeper Configuration
1964. – Sikorsky began the conversion of nine SH-3As to the RH-3A minesweeper configuration. The conversion included a pivoting towboom and towhook, tension and yaw angle indicators, and other airframe modifications.
Production Began of the Bell UH-1E Helicopters for the Marine Corps
1964. – Production began of the Bell UH-1E helicopters for the Marine Corps. 192 units were built between 1964 and 1966. They were used to perform airborne command and control, assault transport, medevac, and other utility missions.
First Helicopter Landing on a Combat Store Ship Mars (AFS-1)
February 28, 1964–A helicopter piloted by Commander D. W. Fisher of HU-1 made the first landing on the deck of the combat store ship Mars (AFS 1) during her shakedown cruise off San Diego. Although the concept of vertical replenishment at sea had been discussed and tested as early as 1959 and helicopter platforms had been installed on certain logistics ships since then, commissioning of the Mars provided the first real opportunity to incorporate the helicopter into the fleet logistic support system.
Marine Corps Helicopters Rescues 11 in Peru
March 23, 1964–Two Marine helicopter crews of VMO-1 rescued 11 sick, injured and wounded members of a road engineering party that had survived attacks by hostile Indians in the dense jungle of the Amazon basin near Iquitos, Peru. Their helicopters were transferred ashore in the Canal Zone from Guadalcanal and were airlifted to Iquitos by a U.S. Air Force C-130.
Astronauts Complete Helicopter Flight Familization Program
April 1, 1964–The last of 15 astronauts completed a helicopter flight familiarization program at Ellyson Field, as a phase of their training for lunar landings. The training was designed to simulate the operation of the Lunar Excursion Module of Project Apollo. Instituted by the Navy at the request of the NASA, the program was scheduled in a series of 2-week courses for two students and had been in progress since 12 November 1963.
Navy Upgrades QH-50D (DASH) with more powerful Turbine Engine and Fiberglass Rotor Blades.
April 6, 1964. – The Navy ordered production of the QH-50D model, fitted with a more powerful T50-BO-12 turbine and fiberglass rotor blades. These and several other improvements significantly increased the drone’s payload capability. Taking advantage of this increase, during the second half of the decade, under ARPA sponsorship, the QH-50D was extensively weaponized to explore its use in the Gunship and Attack Drone roles.
New Opportunities to become a Navy Helicopter Pilot
April 23, 1964–The Chief of Naval Operations broadened the opportunities for Naval Aviators to qualify as helicopter pilots by extending responsibilities for transition training to commands outside the Flight Training Command.
Medical Aid to Haiti and the Dominican Republic
August 29, 1964–Boxer and two LSD’s arrived off the coast of Hispaniola to give medical aid and helicopter evacuation services to people in areas of Haiti and the Dominican Republic badly damaged by Hurricane Cleo.
Navy Begins to Receive the Boeing Vertol UH-46A Tandum Rotor Helicopter
November 1964. – The Navy began to receive the Boeing Vertol UH-46A tandem rotor helicopters. That same month, USS Bell H-71 Sacramento (AOE-1) deployed with two UH-46As embarked. This was the first deployment of the UH-46 in the modern VERTREP role. The Marine Corps also began to receive the CH-46A, which replaced the HUS in the medium lift role. The Navy retired the UH-46 from service in 2004, replacing it with the MH-60S Knighthawk. The USMC, however, plans to keep the CH-46s in service until the MV-22 is fully fielded in the 2014-2015 time-frame.
Marine Corps Helos Provide Typhoon Relief in South Vietnam
November 17, 1964–Helicopters of HMM-162 from Princeton, began delivery of 1,300 tons of food and clothing to people in the inland areas of South Vietnam flooded by heavy rains following a typhoon.
Navy and Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue17 off Norwegian Tanker Splitting up in the Atlantic
November 26, 1964–Nine helicopters of HU-2 and four from NAS Lakehurst, assisted the Coast Guard in the rescue of 17 men from the Norwegian tanker Stolt Dagali cut in two by collision with the Israeli liner Shalom off the New Jersey coast.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1965
Navy Uses the QH-50D as a Reconnaissance and Surveillance Vehicle in Vietnam
January 1965. – The Navy began to use the QH-50D as a reconnaissance and surveillance vehicle in Vietnam. Equipped with a real-time TV camera, a film camera, a transponder for better radar tracking, and a telemetry feedback link to inform the remote control operator of drone responses to his commands, the QH-50D began to fly “SNOOPY” missions from selected destroyers off the Vietnamese coast. These missions had the purpose of providing over-the-horizon target data to the destroyer’s five-inch batteries.
A Navy SH-3A Seaking Helicopter establishes New Unrefueled Distance Record
March 6, 1965. – An SH-3A piloted by CDR James R. Williford, USN, with Lt David A Beil, USN, as copilot and ADJ1 Paul J. Bert as crew chief established a new unrefueled distance record. The helicopter took off from the flight deck of USS Hornet, CVS-12, berthed at the carrier pier, NAS North Island, Coronado, California. Fifteen hours and 52 minutes later it settled down on the flight deck of USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42), berthed at the Naval Base, Mayport, Florida. The distance of 2,116 statute miles broke the prior record by 768 statute miles.
Marines Land at DANANG
March 8, 1965–With surface and air units of Seventh Fleet standing by, 3,500 Marines, including a helicopter squadron and supporting units, landed without opposition at Danang, an air base near the northern border of South Vietnam.
Gemni 3 Spacraft Recovered
March 23, 1965–Astronauts Virgil Grissom and John Young landed their Gemini 3 spacecraft east of Bermuda roughly 50 miles from the intended splash point. The craft was spotted by Coast Guard helicopter about 20 minutes after the landing and within an hour the two astronauts were picked up by helicopter and delivered to Intrepid.
Americans Evacuated from Dominican Republic
April 27, 1965–As revolt in the Dominican Republic threatened the safety of American nationals, Boxer sent her Marines ashore while embarked helicopter pilots of HMM-264 began an airlift in which over 1,000 men, women and children were evacuated to ships of the naval task force standing by.
A Navy SH-3A Helicopter Flew non-stop Seattle, WA, to NAAS Imperial Beach, CA, Using Helicopter In-flight Refueling (HIFR) capability
June 1965. – An SH-3A from HS-2 flew non-stop from Seattle, WA, to NAAS Imperial Beach, CA, a distance of over 1,000 nautical miles, using the newly developed Helicopter In-flight Refueling (HIFR) capability to take fuel from USS O’Brien (DD-725) about 100 miles west of San Francisco. During the spring of 1965, working under the auspices of RADM Evan P. Aurand, Commander, ASW Group One, HS-2 had developed the capability to take fuel from destroyers while hovering alongside. HIFR was used extensively in the Gulf of Tonkin to extend the endurance of helicopters operating independently from aircraft carriers. In November 1965, an SH-3A from HS-2 remained airborne 11 hours and 18 minutes during a CSAR mission in the Gulf with the help of four HIFRs, three of them at night.
Gemni 4 Spacecraft Recovered
June 7, 1965–The Gemini 4 spacecraft of J. A. McDivitt and E. H. White splashed in the Atlantic about 40 miles off target after a 4-day flight. Minutes later Navy frogmen dropped from a helicopter to attach the flotation collar and in less than an hour after landing the astronauts were landed by helicopter on the carrier Wasp which had kept position for possible landings in each orbit since blastoff on 4 June.
HU-1, 2, and 4 Helicopter Squadrons Re-Designated
July 1, 1965–Helicopter Utility Squadrons (HU-1, 2, 4) were re-designated Helicopter Combat Support Squadrons (HC-1, 2, 4) and Utility Squadrons (VU) were re-designated Fleet Composite Squadrons (VC) as more representative of their functions and composition.
Gemni 5 Spacecraft Recovered
August 29, 1965–Gemini 5 splashed into the Atlantic 90 miles off target after a record breaking 8-day space flight, and 45 minutes later Navy frogmen helped astronauts Gordon Cooper and Charles Conrad out of their space ship and aboard a helicopter for flight to the prime recovery ship Lake Champlain.
U.S. Army Helicopters Go Ashore in South Vietnam
September 11, 1965–First elements of the First Cavalry Division, U.S. Army, with their helicopter and light observation aircraft, went ashore at Qui Nhon, South Vietnam, from Boxer in which they had been transported from Mayport, Fla., by way of the Suez Canal.
Gemni 7 Spacecraft Recovered
December 18, 1965–Helicopters of HS-11 recovered Lieutenant Colonel Frank Borman, USAF, and Commander James A. Lovell, in the western Atlantic about 250 miles north of Grand Turk Island and delivered them to Wasp. During their 14-day flight in Gemini 7, the astronauts carried out many experiments in space, including station keeping with Gemini 6A, and established a new duration record for manned space flight.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1966
First Unmanned Apolo Spacecraft Recovered
February 26, 1966–The first unmanned spacecraft of the Apollo series, fired into suborbital flight by a Saturn 1B rocket from Cape Kennedy, was recovered in the southeast Atlantic 200 miles east of Ascension Island by a helicopter from Boxer.
X-22A VTOL Research Aircraft First Flight
March 17, 1966–The X-22A VTOL research aircraft made its first flight at Buffalo, N.Y.
Helicopter Support for SEAL Teams/River Patrol Boats Operating in the Mekong Delta VN
July 1,1966. – In response to the need for helicopter support for SEAL teams and River Patrol Boats operating in the Mekong Delta, HC-1 began to deploy small, two-helo detachments to four separate locations in the Delta region. The Army lent the Navy a number of UH-1B helicopter gunships and provided maintenance support for them.
Flight Test of a Helicopter Capsule Escape System,
March 31, 1966–Flight test of a Helicopter Capsule Escape System, involving recovery of personnel by separation of the inhabited section of the fuselage from the helicopter proper, demonstrated the feasibility of its use during inflight emergencies. The test was conducted at NAF El Centro with an H-25 helicopter.
CNO Established LHA Program
July 19, 1966–The Chief of Naval Operations established the LHA program to bring into being a new concept of an amphibious assault ship. Plans developed through preliminary study envisioned a large multipurpose ship with a flight deck for helicopters, a wet boat well for landing craft, a troop carrying capacity of an LPH and a cargo capacity nearly that of an AKA.
HS-3 Recovers Astonauts
July 21, 1966–A helicopter assigned to HS-3 from Guadalcanal recovered astronauts John W. Young and Michael Collins after their landing in the Atlantic 460 miles east of Cape Kennedy. The astronauts had spent over 70 hours in space, had docked with an Agena satellite and Collins had made a space stand and a space walk.
NATC Completed a Two-Day Shipboard Suitability Trial of the RH-3A Minesweeper Helicopter
September 3,1966. – NATC completed a two-day shipboard suitability trial of the RH-3A minesweeper helicopter aboard USS Ozark (MCS-2). In 1967 a helicopter minesweeping detachment from HC-6 embarked aboard Ozark conducted a mine countermeasure development program on the Atlantic Fleet. A similar program was conducted in the Pacific by an HC-5 detachment embarked on USS Catskill (MCS-1).
HS-11 Recovers Gemni Spaecraft Astronauts
September 15, 1966–A helicopter assigned to HS-3 from Guam recovered Gemini 11 astronauts Charles Conrad and Richard Gordon at sea 700 miles off Cape Kennedy. The recovery marked the end of a 3-day mission in space in which the astronauts completed several dockings with an Agena satellite, established a new altitude record of over 850 miles and Gordon made a walk in space.
USS Oriskany Helicopters Rescue Entire Crew of 44
September 16, 1966–Helicopters from Oriskany rescued the entire crew of 44 men from the British merchant ship August Moon as she was breaking up in heavy seas on Pratas Reef 175 miles southeast of Hong Kong.
HS-11 Recovers Last Gemni Spacraft Flight Astronauts
November 15, 1966–Wasp made the last recovery of the Gemini program, picking up astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr., and Edwin A. Aldrin, Jr., and their spacecraft 600 miles southeast of Cape Kennedy. The astronauts were lifted from their spacecraft to the ship by an SH-3A helicopter of HS-11.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1967
HMH-362 in Vietnam Begins to Receive CH-53A Helicopters
January 1, 1967. – HMH-362 in Vietnam began to receive the CH-53A helicopters, a ten-ton lifter powered by two GE-T64-6, 2850 shp engines driving a six-blade main rotor. They proved to be very useful in the recovering of downed aircraft.
VR-24 and Helicopters from NAF Sigonella ProvideEarthquake Relief
January 19, 1967 – A C-130 Hercules of VR-24 and helicopters from NAF Sigonella delivered food, clothing and medicine to the west coast of Sicily to aid some 40,000 persons made homeless by an earthquake in the region of Montevago.
Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three (HAL-3) Was Established
April 1, 1967. – Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three (HAL-3) was established at Vung Tau, CDR Robert W. Spencer commanding. A spin off HC-1, the Seawolfs took over the four HC-1 detachments. First three, and later two more detachments were added, for a total of nine. By the time the squadron was disestablished on 26 January 1972, its officers and men had been awarded 17,339 decorations and medals, making it the most decorated squadron in U.S. Navy history.
Marine Observation Squadron 2 (VMO-2) Stationed at Da Nang, South Vietnam, Received the First OV-1OA, Broncos
July 6, 1967 – Marine Observation Squadron 2 (VMO-2) stationed at Da Nang, South Vietnam, received the first OV-1OA, Broncos, to arrive in South Vietnam. The aircraft, specifically developed for counterinsurgency warfare, was immediately employed for forward air control, visual reconnaissance and helicopter escort.
Captain Stephen W. Pless USMC Was Awarded The Medal of Honor
August 19, 1967. – Captain Stephen W. Pless, USMC, serving with VMO-6, was flying an UH-1E patrol when he heard a radio emergency call. A damaged helicopter, under Viet Cong (VC) fire, had lifted off the beach south of Chu Lai, leaving four Americans stranded and in imminent danger of being overwhelmed by the VC forces. Captain Pless and his crew, Captain Rupert Fairfield, USMC, copilot; Gunnery Sergeant Leroy Poulson, USMC, gunner; and Lance Corporal John Phelps, USMC, crewchief, decided a rescue attempt. As Captain Pless approached the area, he saw the VC forces swarming the beach and the four Americans being overrun and attacked at close quarters. Pless ordered Poulson to open fire on the VC and maneuvered into position to fire all his fourteen rockets in the middle of the VC mob, now retreating toward the tree line. He spotted one American waving his arm and immediately flared to a landing, placing the helicopter between the wounded man and the VC. With the helicopter now on the ground, the VC force reversed its retreat and began to advance toward it. Poulson immediately jumped off the aircraft and helped the wounded man, Staff Sergeant Lawrence H. Allen, USA, aboard. The other Americans were severely wounded and would have to be carried. Both, Captain Fairfield, the copilot, and Corporal Phelps got off the aircraft to help Poulson. Captain Fairfield spotted three VCs approaching from the rear of the helicopter firing at Poulson and Phelps. He opened fire with his M-60 and killed the VCs. Sergeant Allen, in spite of his wounds, grabbed an M-60 and opened fire on the VCs approaching from the left side of the helicopter. While dragging a wounded American, Fairfield and Phelps fired their pistols to the VC, now within several feet of the aircraft. At this moment, an Army UH-1Es joined the battle and began to strafe the VC. A Vietnam Air Force UH-34 landed next to Pless’ helicopter. With three wounded Americans onboard, and the fourth clearly dead, Pless decided it was time to depart and take the wounded men to a medical facility. With the VC still firing at him with automatic weapons, he had to depart over water. Grossly overloaded, he bounced off the waves four times before gaining enough speed and building his rotor rpm up. For his actions that day, Captain Stephen W. Pless was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was the only Marine helicopter pilot to receive the Medal of Honor in Vietnam, and the first of two naval helicopter pilots to do so. Captain Rupert E. Fairfield, Gunnery Sergeant Leroy N. Poulson, and Lance Corporal John G. Phelps were awarded the Navy Cross. Captain Pless and his crew represent the highest decorated helicopter crew in the Vietnam War. Staff Sergeant Lawrence H. Allen was awarded the Silver Star.
HC-1 Splits into Four Different Squadrons
September 1, 1967. – HC-1 was split into four different squadrons: HC-1, HC-3, HC-5, and HC-7. HC-1 retained the plane guard mission. HC-3 assumed the vertical replenishment mission. HC-5 became the Fleet Replacement Aircrew Training squadron. HC-7 took on the CSAR and minesweeping missions. In fulfilling the CSAR mission off the coast of North Vietnam, Navy helicopter crews wrote many pages of heroic history. The story of a rescue by HC-7 Detachment 104 in a dark summer night in 1968 is a stellar example.
HS-5 Recovers Apollo Astronauts
October 22, 1967 – Helicopters of HS-5 from Essex located and recovered astronauts Walter M. Schirra, Donn F. Eisele, and R. Walter Cunningham about 285 miles south of Bermuda and delivered them safely to the ship. It was the end of an 11-day mission in space and the first manned flight of the Apollo program.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1968
Navy Orders 40 Bell Jet Ranger Helicopters, TH-57A, as Primary Trainers
January 1, 1968. – The Navy ordered 40 Bell Jet Ranger helicopters, Navy designation TH-57A, to be used as primary trainers. Deliveries to HT-8 began in October 1968.
Marine Corps Awards Bell a Contract for 49 AH-1J Sea Cobras
May 1, 1968. – The Marine Corps awarded Bell a contract for 49 AH-1Js. The Sea Cobra featured the 1,290 shp Pratt & Whitney T400 twin-pack engine. The new attack helicopter was armed with guided anti armor missiles, unguided rockets, 20-millimeter cannons or 7.62-millimeter machine guns. HMA-269 was the first to receive the Sea Cobra in April 1971. As an interim measure, the U.S. Army had transfered 38 AH-1Gs to the Marines in 1969. Through the 1970s, various models of the AH-1 were produced, featuring improved armament and more powerful engines. AH-1 development and deployment continues to the present, the most recently acquired model being the AH-1Z Viper, which is expected to continue in service until 2018.
LTJG Clyde E. Lassen Was Awarded the Medal of Honor
June 19, 1968. – Shortly after midnight on 19 June 1968, LTJG Clyde E. Lassen, with copilot LTJG Leroy Cook, and gunners/rescue aircrewmen ADJ3 Donald West and AE2 Bruce Dallas, launched from USS Preble (DLG-15), on station off the coast of North Vietnam. Two aviators had ejected twenty miles inside enemy territory after their F-4J aircraft was hit by a surface-to-air missile. After locating the survivors in a heavily wooded area, Lassen set his UH-2A down on a rice paddy while urging the two survivors to come out of the thick vegetation. The UH-2A began to take small arms fire. With “Come get us” calls coming through his earphones, Lassen decided to try to get above the survivors and hoist them aboard. Using the illumination from RESCAP parachute flares, Lassen positioned the helicopter above the survivors, between two towering trees. Before the air crewmen could begin the hoisting operation the flares went out and the world went pitch black. The helicopter hit a tree and started to spin right. Lassen regained control and waved off. The UH-2A had lost a door but was still flyable. A new RESCAP arrived with more flares. Lassen determined that the survivors would have to make their way to the clearing if they had any hope of being rescued. As Lassen approached the clearing for a second landing, small arms fire erupted along the perimeter. The survivors were too far away and Lassen aborted the approach. During the third approach the last of the illumination flares went out. Lassen decided to turn the landing light on and expose the aircraft to enemy gunners rather than to abandon the survivors. For two minutes he hovered, with the landing gear just touching the mud, while Dallas and West blasted away at the tree line nearby. Finally the survivors, LCDR John Holtzclaw and LCDR John A. Burns emerged from the dark and were yanked inside the helicopter. With the aircraft vibrating abnormally, a malfunctioning compass, and a low fuel state, Lassen headed for the coast while dodging antiaircraft fire. He landed the crippled helicopter aboard the closest ship available, USS Jouett (DLG-29), with 135 pounds of fuel, five minutes of flight time, left in the tanks. For his heroic actions LTJG Clyde E. Lassen was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was the second helicopter pilot to receive the MoH in U.S. Navy history, and the only one during the Vietnam War.
Marine Observation Squadron 2 (VMO-2) Stationed at Da Nang, South Vietnam, Received the First OV-1OA, Broncos
July 6, 1968–Marine Observation Squadron 2 (VMO-2) stationed at Da Nang, South Vietnam, received the first OV-1OA, Broncos, to arrive in South Vietnam. The aircraft, specifically developed for counterinsurgency warfare, was immediately employed for forward aircontrol, visual reconnaissance and helicopter escort.
HS-4 Recovers Apollo 8 Astonauts
December 27, 1968 – Helicopters of HS-4 hovered over Apollo 8 after it ended its historic flight around the moon with a predawn splashdown in the Pacific within 3 miles of Yorktown. At first light, astronauts Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, and William A. Anders were picked up by helicopters and carried to the ship.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1969
CH-53D Sea Stallion Completes its Maiden Flight
January 27, 1969. – The CH-53 D, a more powerful version of the Sea Stallion, completed its maiden flight. CH-53Ds began to arrive in Vietnam later that year.
HC-5 Retires the last Sikorsky CH-19E in US Military Service
February 26, 1969. – HC-5 retires the last Sikorsky CH-19E in US Military Service.
HS-3 Recovers Apollo 9 Astronauts
March 13, 1969–Apollo 9 Astronauts James A. McDivitt, USAF, David R. Scott, USAF, and Russell L. Schweickart were recovered by a helicopter from HS-3 off Guadalcanal after completing a 10-day orbit of the earth.
HT-8 Provides Hurricane Camille Emergency Assistance and Relief
.August 17, 1969–Hurricane Camille swept into the Gulf Coast near Gulfport, Miss., leaving many people homeless and causing heavy property damage. Naval Aviation performed emergency assistance and Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT-8) received a letter from the President praising it for services rendered during the disaster.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1970 till 1980
Naval Aviation Chronology 1970-1980
Naval Aviation Chronology 1970-1980
Naval aviation began its seventh decade with the United States heavily embroiled in the Vietnam War; 1980 ended with carriers Eisenhower and Ranger deployed in the Indian Ocean. The country had no sooner ended its long military involvement in Vietnam than it faced a growing crisis in the Middle East, a crisis that reached hostile proportions late in 1979 when Iranian hoodlums captured the United States embassy in their capital city.
Throughout the seventies, the American public became increasingly aware of the country’s critical dependence upon oil from foreign sources. During this time, an acute consciousness of the United States’ position as a two-ocean nation re-emphasized the reliance upon the U.S. Navy to keep sea lanes open and commerce moving unhampered.
For nearly ten years, the burden of the Navy’s air action fell upon the carriers and aircraft of the Seventh Fleet. To meet this responsibility, Naval air relied on established weapons and material and introduced new ones. The Walleye, a television-guided glide bomb designed to home automatically on target, was tested successfully in combat. Helicopters flexed their muscle in a combat role and served also as aerial tanks and flying freight trains. Land-based patrol aircraft, in Operation Market Time, scoured the coastline of South Vietnam to search out enemy infiltrating vessels and locate surface forces for interception. In 1972, Operations Linebacker I and II waged heavy interdiction and bombing campaigns against North Vietnam. Aircraft of the Seventh Fleet performed the most extensive aerial mining operation in history, blockading the enemy’s main avenues of supply. An uneasy truce finally resulted in the United States disengaging itself from Vietnam in 1973. Two years later, Naval aviation was called upon to assist in the evacuation of refugees fleeing the North Vietnamese takeover of South Vietnam. In 1979, Naval air power helped rescue thousands of Indochinese who took to the high seas in poor vessels to escape mounting tyranny in their homelands.
Against the unrelenting need for vigilance was pitted a declining material inventory and difficulty in retaining experienced personnel. Much of the 1970’s can hardly be called bountiful for Naval aviation. As the surplus of equipment left over from Vietnam eroded through constant use, money for replenishment was not abundant. The high inflation rate that beset the world’s industrial nations plagued defense budgets and drove downward the purchasing power of military salaries. Nevertheless, Naval aviation continued to make headway in the areas of research and development.
Early in the 1970’s, the Navy introduced the F-14 Tomcat, and the Marine Corps accepted the AV-8 V/STOL Harrier. At the end of the decade, a new fighter/attack aircraft, the F/A-18 Hornet, was undergoing flight trials. The submarine threat was confronted by the addition to the fleet of the light airborne multipurpose system (LAMPS) which combined shipboard electronics with the SH-2D helicopter. As 1980 drew to a close, the latest LAMPS version was under test in a new Navy airframe, the SH-60B Seahawk. Also at decade’s end, the Navy’s latest heavy-lift helicopter, the CH-53E, was ready for acceptance by a Marine Corps squadron. Airframes were not the only items which saw advance. The fields of electronics, missiles, and crew systems also benefitted from improvements. Finally it should be mentioned that during the seventies two nuclear supercarriers, Nimitz and Eisenhower were commissioned; a third, Carl Vinson was launched.
As Naval aviation began its eighth decade, there was no serious reason to doubt that its good record of achievement would endure. Aircraft, integrated with the fleet, would continue to provide the United States with the strongest naval power on earth.
VC-8 Seaking Rescues 26 People from Airliner Crash in Caribbean
May 2, 1970–Twenty-six persons were rescued by a VC-8 helicopter from a Dutch Antillean Airlines DC-9 ditched in the Caribbean. The helicopter was piloted by Lieutenant Commander James E. Rylee and Lieutenant (jg) Donald Hartman; crewmen were ADC William Brazzell and AD Calvin Lindley.
U.S. Navy Riverine Air and Water Resources Combined Attack
May 9, 1970–Approximately 30 U.S. Navy craft, helicopters and OV-10 Bronco aircraft participated with the combined South Vietnamese/U.S. Riverine Force in operations into the “Mekong River Corridor” to neutralize sanctuary bases in that area. This followed the initial series of strikes by combined U.S.-RVN ground forces against enemy sanctuaries in Cambodia during the first week of May.
Marine Corps CH-53D Establishes New Speed Record
June 9, 1970–Sikorsky pilot James R. Wright and copilot Colonel Henry Hart, USMC, flying a Marine Corps CH-53D, established a New York to Washington record for helicopters of 156.43 m.p.h. with an elapsed time of one hour, 18 minutes and 41.4 seconds from downtown to downtown. The following day they established a New York to Boston record for helicopters of 162.72 miles per hour with a city to city time of one hour, nine minutes, 23.9 seconds.
Marine Corps Helicopters Performed Rescue and Relief Operations for Typhoon Kate in VN
October 29, 1970–Following the ravages of Typhoon Kate and flood waters that inundated some 140 square miles of Vietnam south of Da Nang, the helicopter forces of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing performed rescue and relief operations for over 9,000 South Vietnamese. Initial rescue operations began when MAG-16 evacuated some 900 people the first day during floods termed the worst since 1964.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1971
Tests of the SH-2D Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) Helicopter Began
March 16, 1971. – Tests of the SH-2D Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helicopter began at the Kaman plant in Bloomfield, Connecticut. The LAMPS system extends the Surface and Sub-surface Surveillance and Control (SSSC) range of cruisers and destroyers by adding the ASW and ASMD capabilities of helicopter-borne sensors.
Helicopter Launches Sidewinder Missile
March 29, 1971–The first active AIM-9G missile was launched from an NUH-2H helicopter by the Weapons System Test Division of NATC.
Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Twelve (HM-12) was Established
April 1, 1971. – Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Twelve (HM-12) was established at NAS Norfolk, VA. This was the first minesweeping squadron in the U.S. Navy. That year the Marines transferred fifteen CH-53As to the Navy to be used as minesweepers. They were redesignated RH-53As and assigned to the newly established squadron.
SECDEF Announces Strength Changes to Sixth Fleet
May 28, 1971–The Secretary of Defense announced measures to strengthen the Sixth Fleet. He said that fleet readiness was to be improved by the almost continuous presence of a helicopter carrier, and by a substantial increase in the hours flown by maritime air patrols and the ship-operating days of sea patrols. This followed an earlier announcement by the Pentagon on 24 May that the Sixth Fleet would be strengthened in response to the growing Soviet naval power.
HC-7 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation
July 28, 1971–HC-7 was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the second Navy helicopter squadron to receive the citation for duty in Vietnam. The other helo squadron to win the award was HA(L)-3. Operating from ships at sea on Yankee Station, HC-7 SAR detachments were credited with rescuing 76 U.S. aviators from Vietnam waters. During the early stages of the conflict, the squadron had made several overland rescues in NVN under intense enemy fire.
HC-4 First squadron to Receive the LAMPS-configured SH-2F Seasprite Helicopter
October 5, 1971. – HC-4, at NAS Lakehurst, NJ, became the first squadron to receive the LAMPS-configured SH-2F Seasprite helicopter. HC-5, at NAS Imperial Beach, CA, received the first West Coast SH-2F a week later. HC-4 was redesignated HSL-30 and HC-5 was redesignated HSL-31 on 1 March 1972.
World-Wide Quick Reaction Mine Countermeasures Capability Demonstrated
October 8, 1971–About one hundred officers and men of the Mobile Mine Countermeasure Command and four CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, were air lifted from Norfolk, Virginia, and Charleston, South Carolina, to the Sixth Fleet at Souda Bay, Crete by C-5’s of the 437th Military Airlift Wing in a demonstration of the world-wide quick reaction mine countermeasures capability.
HM-12 Detachment Deployment
October 10, 1971–A detachment of four CH-53A’s from HM-12 recorded the first overseas deployment of the new helicopter. The detachment began sweeping operations, after being airlifted by C-5A Galaxies from Charleston, South Carolina, to Souda Bay, Crete. From 2 to 7 November, the squadron participated in the first integration of airborne minesweeping operations into an amphibious assault exercise. The operations were conducted from Coronado.
HS-15, the First Sea Control Squadron, was Established at NAS Lakehurst, NJ
October 29, 1971. – HS-15, the first sea control squadron, was established at NAS Lakehurst, NJ. The squadron operated the SH-3H helicopters to provide protection to convoys or ships not operating with or within the protective range of aircraft carriers.
Naval Helicopter Association Was Founded
November 2, 1971. – Eleven Navy helicopter pilots and one civilian helicopter engineer met at the NAS Imperial Beach Officers Club and founded the Naval Helicopter Association. CAPT Alfred Monahan was elected the first National President. The Association’s objectives were, and continue to be, to provide recognition and enhance the prestige of the U.S. Naval vertical flight community; to promote the use of vertical lift aircraft in the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard; and to keep members informed of new developments and accomplishments in rotary wing aviation. The NHA held its first Annual Symposium the week of 11 March 1972.
Tripoli and it's Embarked Marine Air Wing Ready for Foreign Citizen Evacuation From Indo-Pakistani war
December 8, 1971–Amphibious Group Alpha, formed around Tripoli, was directed to move from Okinawa to the vicinity of Singapore in anticipation of a possible Indian Ocean deployment. This followed indications by the head of the UN relief mission in Dacca, East Pakistan/Bangladesh that as a result of the Indo-Pakistani war, which began on 3 December, evacuation of foreign civilians by means of carrier-based helicopters might be required.
HAL-3 SeaWolves in Action 1971
December 31, 1971–During 1971 HAL-3, nicknamed the “Seawolves,” the only light attack helicopter squadron in the Navy, flew 34,746 hours in squadron aircraft in support of their mission to provide quick reaction armed helicopter close air support for all naval forces and SVN forces operating in the southern part of SVN. During their flights in 1971, HAL-3 expended 16,939,268 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition; 96,696 2.75 inch rockets; 32,313 .40 mm grenade rounds; and 2,414,096 rounds of .50 cal. machine gun ammunition in carrying out their assigned missions. HAL-3 lost six aircraft during 1971.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1972
TRAWING FIVE Established at NAS Whiting Field
January 6, 1972–Training Air Wing Five was established at Whiting Field, Florida. The new wing was composed of Naval Air Stations Whiting and Ellyson Fields; VT-2, 3, and 6; and HT-8. This was the first training wing established under the reorganization of the Naval Air Training Command. The wing was established to coordinate and supervise training activities that previously had been the responsibility of each station and squadron.
USS Guam Used to Analyze the Sea Control Ship Concept (SCS)
January 18, 1972–Guam began the first in a series of tests to analyze the sea control ship concept (SCS). The SCS was a concept in which a shipboard platform would have a smaller complement of aircraft than the large carriers (CVA) and would maintain control of sea lines/lanes in low threat areas of the world. The SCS ship was designed to carry the VSTOL aircraft as well as helicopters. The mission functions were to provide protection of underway replenishment groups, mercantile convoys, amphibious assault forces and task groups with no aircraft carrier in company.
Lieutenants Cunningham and William Driscoll Shoot Down Mig-21
January 19, 1972–Lieutenants Randall Cunningham and William Driscoll in an F-4 of VF-96 off Constellation shot down a MiG-21, the first enemy aircraft downed since 28 March 1970, when Lieutenants Jerome Beaulier and Steven Barkley in an F-4 of VF-142 off Constellation downed a MiG-21. The 19 January action occurred during a protective reaction strike in response to earlier AAA and SAM firings from the area which had menaced an RA-5C reconnaissance plane and its escorts. This accounted for the Navy’s 33rd MiG shot down in the Vietnam war since the first on 17 June 1965, downed by Commanders Louis Page and John Smith in an F-4 of VF-21 off Midway.
HT-8 was Split into Two Squadrons, HT-8 and HT-18
March 1, 1972. – HT-8 was split into two squadrons, HT-8 and HT-18. HT-8 retained the primary helicopter training mission, flying the TH-57 A. HT-18 became the advance training squadron, flying the TH-1L. The Naval Air Training Command was reorganized late in 1972. A result of this reorganization was the closing of Ellyson Field and the move of HT-8 and HT-18 to NAS Whiting Field, Milton, Florida, in December 1973. Navy helicopter training remains at Whiting Field to this day. In 1985, the TH-57B replaced the TH-1L as advance trainer.
March 16, 1972–HAL-3, the only armed UH-1 Navy helicopter squadron to serve in Vietnam, was disestablished. HAL-3 and VAL-4 were the only Navy air units to be stationed in-country. HAL-3 provided valuable gunship support for Navy and Army riverine operations in the Mekong Delta from 1967 to their disestablishment. During this time HAL-3 pioneered various tactics in support of patrol boats and shore installations. They operated from various bases in the Mekong Delta and from specially equipped Patrol Craft Tenders (AGP) (former LSTs).
Photographer's Mate Class "A" School Initiated Flight Training Again
March 29, 1972–Due to the fleet requirements for qualified aircrew personnel, the Naval Air Technical Training Unit’s Photographer’s Mate Class “A” School initiated flight training again as part of the course. The flight training requirements for the Photographer’s Mate Class “A” School had been dropped 16 years earlier.
HC-1 Recovers Apollo 16 Spacecraft After Splashdown
April 27, 1972–HC-1, aboard the Ticonderoga, recovered the Apollo 16 spacecraft after it had splashed down in the south Pacific.
The Second Most Cctive Dog-Fight Day of the Viet Nam War
May 6, 1972–In the second most active dog-fight day of the war, Navy flyers shot down two MiG-17s and two MiG-21s. Scoring the kills were flyers from VF-111 and VF-51 aboard Coral Sea and two planes from VF-114 off Kitty Hawk.
Operation Pocket Money Haiphong Harbor
May 9, 1972–Operation Pocket Money, the mining campaign against principal NVN ports, was launched. Early that morning, an EC-121 aircraft took off from Danang airfield to provide support for the mining operation. A short time later, Kitty Hawk launched 17 ordnance-delivering sorties against the Nam Dinh railroad siding as a diversionary air tactic. Poor weather, however, forced the planes to divert to secondary targets at Thanh and Phu Qui which were struck at 090840H and 090845H, Vietnam time, respectively. Coral Sea launched three A-6A and six A-7E aircraft loaded with mines and one EKA-3B in support of the mining operation directed against the outer approaches to Haiphong Harbor. The mining aircraft departed the vicinity of Coral Sea at 090840H in order to execute the mining at precisely 090900H to coincide with the President’s public announcement in Washington that mines had been seeded. The A-6 flight led by the CAG, Commander Roger Sheets, was composed of USMC aircraft from VMA-224 and headed for the inner channel. The A-7Es, led by Commander Len Giuliani and made up of aircraft from VA-94 and VA-22, were designated to mine the outer segment of the channel. Each aircraft carried four MK 52-2 mines. Captain William Carr, USMC, the bombardier/navigator in the lead plane established the critical attack azimuth and timed the mine releases. The first mine was dropped at 090859H and the last of the field of 36 mines at 090901H. Twelve mines were placed in the inner segment and the remaining 24 in the outer segment. All MK 52-2 mines were set with 72-hour arming delays, thus permitting merchant ships time for departure or a change in destination consistent with the President’s public warning. It was the beginning of a mining campaign that planted over 11,000 MK 36 type destructor and 108 special MK 52-2 mines over the next eight months. It is considered to have played a significant role in bringing about an eventual peace arrangement, particularly since it so hampered the enemy’s ability to continue receiving war supplies.
Operation Linebacker I
May 10, 1972–Operation Linebacker I, the heavy strike of targets in most of NVN, evolved and lasted until restrictions on operations above 20_ N were imposed 22 October. The operation was an outgrowth of Freedom Train and the President’s mining declaration which also stated that the U.S. would make a maximum effort to interdict the flow of supplies in NVN. On this first day of Linebacker I, the Navy shifted its attacks from targets in southern NVN to the coastal region embracing Haiphong north to the Chinese border. In all, 173 attack sorties were flown in this region this day, although another 62 were directed into SVN in continuing support of allied forces there. It was the most intensified air-to-air combat day of the entire war. Navy flyers shot down eight MiGs. An F-4 Phantom II, from VF-96 on board Constellation, while engaged in aerial combat over Haiphong shot down three MiGs for the first triple downing of enemy MiGs by one plane during the war. Lieutenant Randy Cunningham was the pilot and Lieutenant (jg) William Driscoll was the RIO of the F-4. These three MiG downings, coupled with their 19 January and 8 May downing of two MiGs, made them the first MiG aces of the Vietnam War. Three other kills were scored by planes of VF-96 and one by VF-92 off Constellation and one by VF-51 off Coral Sea. During the five and one-half month period of Linebacker I, the Navy contributed more than 60 percent of the total sorties in NVN, with 60 percent of this effort in the “panhandle”, two large regions between Hanoi and the DMZ. Tactical air operations were most intense during the July-September quarter with 12,865 naval sorties flown. Most attack sorties in NVN fell into two classes–armed reconnaissance and strike. The former was usually directed against targets of opportunity with three main areas proscribed–near Hanoi, Haiphong and the Chinese border. Strike operations were preplanned and usually directed at fixed targets. Most types of fixed targets, not associated with armed reconnaissance, required approval by the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, or by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, prior to attack. Principal Navy aircraft were the A-7 and A-6, which accounted for roughly 60 and 15 percent of the Navy’s attack sorties, respectively. About 25 percent of the Navy’s effort was at night. Carriers participating in the initial May-June operations from Yankee Station were Constellation, Coral Sea, Hancock, Kitty Hawk, Midway and Saratoga.
HS-2, HS-15, HS-74 and HS-75 Aid Flood Stricken Residents of Wilker-Barre, Scranton and Pottsdown PA
June 23, 1972–HS-2, HS-15, HS-74 and HS-75 came to the aid of flood stricken residents in the Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Pottstown areas of Pennsylvania. Besides the extensive rescue and evacuation work conducted by these squadrons they were also involved in transporting medical supplies and personnel, equipment, food and clothing to the flood victims.
Reorganization of the Naval Air Training System
July 1, 1972–A reorganization of the Naval Air Training system occurred when the Naval Air Advanced Training Command was disestablished and the Chief of Naval Air Training was relocated to Corpus Christi, Texas. This action was part of the Navy’s effort to consolidate training under a concept called “single base training.” When pilots completed their primary training they were assigned to a specific program involving training in either jets, props or helos. This training would be completed at one specific training base where the pilots would finish their instruction before receiving their wings. The new structure/organization came under the control of the Chief Naval Air Training Command.
UH-2C Helicopter Fires Sea Sparrow Missiles
July 15, 1972–A three-day test demonstration of the ability of the UH-2C Seasprite to fire Sparrow III missiles against surface targets was completed at the Pacific Missile Range Sea Test Range. The helicopter, modified to carry a single missile mounted on a rail launcher, fired four missiles during the course of the demonstration.
HMM-165 Helicopters Provide Relief Support IN the Philippines
July 22, 1972–Tripoli arrived in Subic Bay with HMM-165 on board to provide relief support after record rains caused disastrous flooding in the central Luzon valley between Manila and Lingayen Gulf. Tens of thousands of people were affected and additional ships were tasked for Philippine flood relief operations.
Night Airops Over North Viet Nam
July 31, 1972–The Navy began night operations regularly on 24 May and during June and July night sorties constituted 30 percent of the total Navy attack effort in NVN. The Navy relied primarily on the A-7 and A-6 for its night sorties. About 45 percent of the Navy armed reconnaissance effort was at night during June and July. The A-7 flew about as many night sorties as it did day sorties. The A-6 flew more night than day armed reconnaissance sorties during the summer months. The total number of Navy night sorties during June and July were 1,243 and 1,332 respectively. Three to four carriers were maintained on Yankee Station during the summer months. The carriers involved were Constellation, Coral Sea, Hancock, Kitty Hawk, Midway, Saratoga, Oriskany and America.
Philippine Flood Relief Operations Continue
August 5, 1972–New Orleans relieved Tripoli in Philippine flood relief operations. HMM-165 transferred to the New Orleans to continue support due to their knowledge of terrain and problems inherent in the flood relief operations.
HC-7 Combat SAR Rescue Deep in North Viet Nam
August 7, 1972–An HC-7 Det 110 helicopter, aided by planes from the carriers Saratoga and Midway, conducted a search and rescue mission for a downed aviator in NVN. The pilot of an A-7 aircraft from Saratoga had been downed by a surface-to-air missile about 20 miles inland, northwest of Vinh, on 6 August. Big Mother, the name HC-7 and its helicopters were referred to, flew inland over mountainous terrain to rescue the pilot. The rescue helicopter used its search light to assist in locating the downed pilot and, despite receiving heavy ground fire, was successful in retrieving the pilot and returning to an LPD off coast of NVN. This was the deepest penetration of a rescue helicopter into NVN since 1968. HC-7 Det 110 continued its rescue efforts and by the end of 1972 it had successfully conducted forty-eight rescues during the year, thirty-fiveof those under combat conditions.
Marine Corps Air Efforts in South Viet Nam and their Effect on North Viet Nam War
August 31, 1972–Although Marine Corps air efforts were concentrated in SVN, the Marines contributed significantly to U.S. efforts in NVN to prevent offloading and transportation of supplies from Chinese merchant ships at Hon La and Hon Nieu. HMA-369, with seven AH-1J helicopters, using the Cobra weapons system, operated from Denver against water transport traffic in late June, and from Cleveland in early August. HMA-369’s operations during August were extended to include night surveillance and attack. In addition HMA-369 helicopters served as airspotters for naval gunfire and as airborne tactical controllers for fixed-wing aircraft attacking lucrative targets. The Navy flew 4,819 sorties in August against NVN. The downward trend of Navy attack sorties in SVN continued during July and August. The stepped-up campaign in the Mekong Delta accounted for a sharp rise in Marine Corps air activity in SVN. The Marine Corps air effort rose from eight percent of the total air effort in SVN during May to 43 percent during August.
Groundbreaking for New Naval Aviation Museum Building NAS Pensacola
November 22, 1972–Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Naval Aviation Museum building were officiated by Admiral Arthur W. Radford, USN (Ret.). Admiral Radford, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the Chairman of the Naval Aviation Museum Association, Inc., a non-profit organization of Naval Aviation enthusiasts who labored since 1965 to finance and create the first part of the new museum building. All funds for the building of the first phase of the museum were contributed by private individuals and organizations. The museum was designed to be built in three phases. The first phase consisted of 65,000 sq. ft. of floor space with future expansion of 140,000 sq. ft. The Naval Aviation Museum, was established at the NAS Pensacola in December 1962 by the authority of the Secretary of the Navy. It had been housed in a temporary building until enough money had been accumulated to build the first phase of the new museum building.
HC-1 Combat Rescues From USS Oriskany on Yankee Station, Tonkin Gulf
December 13, 1972–An HC-1 Detachment Five SH-3G Sea King helicopter, stationed aboard Oriskany, rescued a VFP-63 pilot involved in operations in the Tonkin Gulf while on Yankee Station. This was the fifteenth pilot rescued by HC-1 detachments while they were operating aboard a carrier on Yankee Station during 1972. During 1972 HC-1 rescued a total of 36 people.
Bombing Halt Above 20th Parallel in North Viet Nam
December 17, 1972–During the period 23 October through 17 December there was a U.S. bombing halt above the 20th parallel in NVN. No MiG kills or U.S. losses were recorded during this period. Three to four carriers were maintained on Yankee Station during the bombing halt. The carriers alternating on Yankee Station were Enterprise, Kitty Hawk, Midway, Saratoga, Oriskany, America and Ranger.
Linebacker II Operations Initiated After Paris Peace Talks Fail
December 18, 1972–Linebacker II Operations were initiated on 18 December when negotiations in the Paris peace talks stalemated. The Linebacker II Operations ended on 29 December when the North Vietnamese returned to the peace table. These operations involved the resumed bombing of NVN above the 20th parallel and was an intensified version of Linebacker I. The reseeding of the mine fields was resumed and concentrated strikes were carried out against surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery sites, enemy army barracks, petroleum storage areas, Haiphong Naval and shipyard areas, and railroad and truck stations. Navy tactical air attack sorties under Linebacker II were centered in the coastal areas around Hanoi and Haiphong. There were 505 Navy sorties in this area during Linebacker II. The following carriers participated in Linebacker II operations: Enterprise, Saratoga, Oriskany, America and Ranger.
HC-1 Recovers Apollo 17 Crew After Splashdown
December 19, 1972–HC-1 helicopters, aboard Ticonderoga, recovered the Apollo 17 crew after splashdown. The Apollo 17 crew consisted of Naval Aviators CAPT E. Cernan and Commander R. Evans and geologist H.H. Schmidt. This recovery marked the end of NASA’s Apollo lunar program. Naval aviation squadrons and naval surface units performed all the recovery operations for the 11 Apollo missions. There were 33 astronauts involved in the Apollo program and 22 of those had Navy backgrounds.
Airops Over North Viet Nam
December 23, 1972–An example of attack squadron action during the year is portrayed by the following partial roundup of operations by VA-56 which ended its seventh line period this date. Flying combat with CVW-5 off Midway during portions of every month since April, the squadron recorded a total of 180 days on the line, engaged in 5,582.9 combat hours, flew over 3,000 sorties, performed 2,090 and 781 day and night carrier landings, respectively, and amassed a total of 6,301 flight hours during its line periods. It conducted strikes against such targets as the Haiphong, Ninh Binh, Ha Tinh, Kien An, Tam Da and Than Hoa bridge complexes, the Haiphong, Vinh, Doung Nham and Nam Dinh petroleum areas, and the Gia Lam railroad yards across the Red River from Hanoi. Other actions, for example, included mining operations and protective flights for four search and rescue (SAR) missions, including one at night inside NVN, and one for two Air Force officers downed off the coast. During the line periods, four of the unit’s A-7Bs were lost to antiaircraft artillery and surface-to-air missile fire, with two pilots taken prisoner of war, one listed as missing in action, and one retrieved.
Christmas Day Recess on Bombing in North Viet Nam
December 25, 1972–A Christmas Day bombing/tactical air attack recess went into effect during which none of the U.S. air services flew sorties. Since the beginning of the heavy raids against the Hanoi/Haiphong complex on 18 December to persuade NVN to return to the conference table and release the American POWs, 420 raids by B-52s had been conducted, with 18 December accounting for 122, the highest number. Carrier strikes from TF-77 and tactical aircraft from Thailand supplemented the raids, mainly to suppress missile sites and confuse the NVN air defense systems. Heavy attacks were resumed on 26 December, with 113 B-52 raids, the next highest sortie count. Targets, as before, were powerhouses, railroads, missile assembly points, command and control stations, fuel reserves, airfields and railroad marshalling yards. By the end of the 27th, intercepted enemy messages indicated NVN was losing its missile potential as new missiles could not be moved from assembly points to the launchers.
VF-142 Downs Another Mig over North Viet Nam
December 28, 1972–An F-4J Phantom II, from VF-142 on board Enterprise, downed a MiG-21. This was the 24th MiG downed by Navy/Marine Corps pilots during 1972. The total MiG downings by Navy/Marine Corps pilots during the Vietnam war from the first in June 1965 through December 1972 were 56. Statistics for Navy/Marine Corps downings of MiGs during 1972:
Constellation: VF-96 downed 8 MiGs VF-92 downed 1 MiG
Coral Sea: VF-51 downed 4 MiGs VF-111 downed 1 MiG
Midway: VF-161 downed 4 MiGs
Kitty Hawk: VF-114 downed 2 MiGs
Saratoga: VF-103 downed 1 MiG VF-31 downed 1 MiG
America: VMFA-333 downed 1 MiG
Enterprise: VF-142 downed 1 MiG
Heavy Raids Around Hanoi
December 29, 1972–Heavy raids around Hanoi, which had been resumed the day after the Christmas bombing halt, were eased as NVN showed indications of returning to the conference table. The over 700 sorties by B-52s during the 11 heavy-bombing days were believed accountable for the eventual resumption of negotiations which led to the peace agreement and the release of American POWs. On 28 and 29 December, during a total of 160 raids, no B-52s were lost to NVN air defenses, indicating the virtual paralysis of the system. Only two percent–15 B-52s were lost from over 700 raids during the whole 11-day, heavy bombing period.
Bombing Halt in North Viet Nam
December 30, 1972–The U.S. called another bombing halt in North Vietnam and the Navy ended all tactical air sorties above the 20th parallel. The bombing halt was called when North Vietnam returned to the negotiating table to continue the Paris peace talks.
The War in South and North Viet Nam
December 31, 1972–During 1972 the Navy conducted 33.9 percent of all tactical air attack sorties flown in SVN. There were 23,802 tactical air attack sorties flown and 160,763 general purpose bombs delivered by Navy fixed-wing aircraft, with the Marine Corps fixed-wing aircraft delivering 111,859 general purpose bombs in SVN during 1972. The Navy and Marine Corps each lost 5 fixed-wing aircraft in SVN during 1972. In NVN the Navy conducted more than 60 percent of the tactical air attack sorties flown, for a total of 28,093. The Navy and Marine Corps lost 49 aircraft in NVN during this period. In 1972 the carriers spent a total of 1,403 on-line days at Yankee Station, with an average on-line period of slightly more than 25 days for each carrier. Carrier and Carrier Air Wings on Yankee Station during 1972 were:
Hancock with CVW-21 on board Kitty Hawk with CVW-11 on board Oriskany with CVW-19 on board America with CVW-8 on board Enterprise with CVW-14 on board Midway with CVW-5 on board Saratoga with CVW-3 on board Constellation with CVW-9 on board Coral Sea with CVW-15 on board Ranger with CVW-2 on board
Marine Corps squadrons operating off carriers on Yankee Station during 1972 were VMA(AW)-224, VMCJ-2 and VMFA-333. Marine Corps land-based fixed-wing squadrons in South East Asia during 1972 were VMFA-115, VMFA-232, VMA(AW)-533, VMCJ-1, VMA-211 and VMA-311, VMFA-212, VMGR-151, H&MS-15, and H&MS-12.
NAVAL HELICOPTER HISTORY TIMELINE 1973
Major Re-Organization of Naval Reserve Affairs
January 1, 1973–A major reorganization in naval reserve affairs got under way as a result of the announcement two days earlier by the Secretary of the Navy that the Naval Surface and Air Reserve Commands would be consolidated into a single command located in New Orleans.
Last Mig Shotdown Over North Viet Nam
January 12, 1973–VF-161, flying off Midway, shot down a NVN MiG-17, the last enemy “kill” of the war, making a total of 57 MiGs shot down by Navy and Marine Corps pilots during the Vietnam conflict.
Viet Nam Cease-Fire Announced in Paris
January 27, 1973. – The cease-fire announced in Paris three days before took effect this day, bringing to an end to American combat operations in Vietnam. During the long American involvement in the conflict (1961 to 27 January 1973), the Navy lost 13 helicopters to hostile fire. During that same period, the Marine Corps lost 270 helicopters to enemy action. The U.S. Navy continued flying combat missions over Laos and Cambodia until the following August.
The Vietnam cease-fire, announced four days earlier, came into effect and the carriers Oriskany, America, Enterprise and Ranger, on Yankee Station, cancelled all combat sorties into North and South Vietnam. During the Vietnam conflict, which dates U.S. involvement starting in 1961 and ends on 27 January 1973, the Navy lost 526 fixed-wing aircraft and 13 helicopters to hostile action. The Marine Corps lost 193 fixed-wing aircraft and 270 helicopters to enemy action during the same period. Operation Homecoming, the repatriation of U.S. POWs between 27 January and 1 April, began and NVN and the Viet Cong released 591 POWs. Of the 591 POWs released during Operation Homecoming, there were 566 military personnel and 145 were Navy personnel. Naval Aviation personnel accounted for 144 of the 145 Navy personnel.
Task Force 78 Formed to Conduct MInesweeping in North Vietnamese Waters
January 27, 1973-Task Force 78 was formed to conduct minesweeping operations in North Vietnamese waters under the code name Operation Endsweep. It consisted of surface minesweeping elements and an Air Mobile Mine Countermeasures Command. The latter was made up of HM-12, HMH-463 and HMM-165, organized into units Alpha through Delta, an airborne mine countermeasures planning element, command and control element, an aircraft element and a material element.
The US Third Fleet Re-Activated
February 1, 1973–The U.S. Third Fleet was reactivated at Pearl Harbor with the merger of the First Fleet and Antisubmarine Warfare Forces, Pacific Fleet. The change was made to reduce fleet staffs and achieve economies while retaining control of operational units, including some 100 ships and 60,000 men serving a 50-million-squaremile area from the West Coast to beyond Midway Island.
Task Force 78 Begin Mine Countermeasures Exercise in Subic Bay
February 3, 1973–Task Force 78 flagship, New Orleans with escort ships, began a six day mine countermeasures exercise in Subic Bay in preparation for scheduled Endsweep operations in NVN.
Commander Task Force 78 Meet with North Vietnamese Leaders In Haiphong
February 5, 1973–Commander Task Force 78 and other Navy mine demolition experts met with North Vietnamese leaders in Haiphong to discuss Operation Endsweep, the clearing of mines in NVN.
Task Force 78 Begins Minesweeping Operations in Haipong Harbor
February 6, 1973–Surface minesweepers of Task Force 78 began preliminary sweeping to prepare an anchorage in deep water off the approaches to Haiphong Harbor. Ships of the force included New Orleans and Inchon. The ocean anchorage would be used by command and supply ships of the U.S. Navy in on-scene support of minesweeping of NVN harbors, coastal and inland waterways. During the operation Task Force 78 ships were joined by Tripoli.
Airops Against Southern Loas
February 11, 1973–Aircraft from the carriers Constellation and Oriskany operating on Yankee Station, the location of which was changed to a position off the coast of the northern part of South Vietnam, flew strikes against targets in southern Laos. Combat sorties from carriers on Yankee Station against targets in Laos had continued since the cease-fire in Vietnam.
Stepped Up Air Operations Over Laos
February 14,1973–The Pentagon announced a step-up of U.S. air strikes in Laos to 380 daily, an increase of 100. Aircraft from Oriskany and Enterprise flew about 160 of these sorties into Laos on this date.
Combat Support Operations Over Cambodia
February 25, 1973–Planes from Ranger and Oriskany flew combat support missions over Cambodia. The combat support sorties were flown in support of the government of Cambodia at its request.
Airborne Minesweeping Begins off Haiphon Harbor
February 27, 1973–Airborne mine countermeasures began off Haiphong during Operation Endsweep. This was a “first” in mine warfare as airborne minesweeping had never been done with “live” mines. A CH-53 Sea Stallion from HM-12 made two sweeps in the Haiphong shipping channel. All operations were abruptly halted and minesweeping task force moved to sea as the President called for “clarification . . . on a most urgent basis” of Hanoi’s delay in releasing American POWs.
One of the First Eight Women Selected to be a Naval Aviator-First Female Naval Helicopter Pilot
March 2, 1973–Ensign Joellen Margaret Drag, USNR In the spring of 1973, Joellen Drag was one of the first eight women officers selected for flight training in the Navy. Ensign Drag went through officer training at Navy OCS, Newport R.I. receiving her commission there. Ensign J.M. Drag, USNR was the fourth female to become a Naval Aviator, receiving her wings on April 19, 1974 at HT-18, NAS Whiting Field, Milton, FL and the first female Navy Helicopter Pilot. Ensign Drag was assigned to HC-3 at NAS Imperial Beach, CA, flying the Navy H-46 Helicopter. Ensign Drag was the first female to deploy aboard a U.S. Navy Warship. Ensign Drag completed her naval career retiring as CAPT Joellen Drag Oslund, USN (Ret.).
Troop Withdrawal from Vietnam
March 4, 1973-The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam resumed and the naval minesweeping force returned to its position off Haiphong. Minesweeping operations continued in and around Haiphong and the harbor was reopened after being closed for ten months because of the U.S. naval mining which began in May 1972. In addition, the carrier America was ordered to depart the Far East for the U.S. This was the initial move in reducing the number of carriers serving in South East Asia from six to three by mid-June 1973.
The Remaining U.S. Combat Forces Left South Vietnam
March 29, 1973–The remaining U.S. combat forces left South Vietnam and the United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, was disbanded, officially ending U.S. military involvement in South Vietnam. The last phase of Operation Homecoming was concluded when the final group of 148 American POWs were released by Hanoi. This brought a total of 591 POWs released, and of that total, 566 of them were U.S. military personnel with 144 being naval pilots and aircrewmen.
Navy Helicopters Evacuate 200 People Due to Flooding in Tunisia
March 29-31, 1973–Forrestal led two other Sixth Fleet ships into Tunisian waters where Sea King helicopters from the carrier evacuated some 200 persons and airlifted four tons of relief supplies to flood victims in Tunisia.
Two New Airwings Established
April 1, 1973–Two new air wings were established as the final phase of the reorganization of the AirLant community, completing the functional wing concept: Air Antisubmarine Wing One with VSs 22, 24, 27, 30, 31 and 32 and Helicopter Antisubmarine Wing One with HSs 1, 3, 5, 7 and 11.
SECNAV and United Kingdom Agree on V/STOL Harrier Development
April 13, 1973–The Secretary of the Navy announced that an agreement with the United Kingdom had been signed providing for an eight-month joint study of an advanced V/STOL Harrier involving participation by Rolls-Royce, Hawker Siddeley, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and McDonnell Douglas. The overall aim was to determine the feasibility of joint development of an advanced concept V/STOL incorporating a Pegasus 15 engine and an advanced wing.
A Four-Day Trial of a Prototype Glide Slope Indicator for Helicopters
May 18, 1973–A four-day trial of a prototype glide slope indicator was completed aboard Truxtun. The indicator, developed by the Naval Air Engineering Center, consisted of a hydraulically stabilized Fresnel lens. It was one of several steps taken to achieve an all weather capability with LAMPS helicopters.
First Production RH-53D Sea Stallion Arrived at PaxRiver
May 25, 1973–The first production RH-53D Sea Stallion, especially configured for the airborne mine countermeasures mission, arrived at the Naval Air Test Center for weapons system trials. Navy preliminary evaluation and the initial phase of the Board of Inspection and Survey trials had begun at Sikorsky Aircraft Division on 15 May.
Skylab II Carries All Navy Crew
May 25, 1973–Skylab II, carrying a three-man, all-Navy crew of Captain Charles Conrad, Commander Joseph Kerwin, MC, and Commander Paul Weitz, rendezvoused with the earth-orbiting Skylab I workshop. Among the crew’s first tasks was repairing the Skylab I meteoroid shield and solar array system which had been damaged during launch. The crew boarded the workshop, made repairs, conducted medical experiments and studied solar astronomy and earth resources for 28 days before returning to earth on 22 June.
Task Force 77 and USAF Receive Collier Trophy for 1972
June 13, 1973–The National Aeronautics Association presented the Robert J. Collier Trophy for 1972 jointly to the Navy’s Task Force 77 and to the Seventh and Eighth Air Forces for their “demonstrated expert and precisely integrated use of advance aerospace technology” in Operation Linebacker II, the 11-day air campaign in December 1972 that “led to the return of the U.S. prisoners of war.”
HC-1 Recovers Skylab II Astronauts
June 22, 1973–The all-Navy crew of Skylab II astronauts was recovered after their 28-day mission in space by HC-1 and flown aboard Ticonderoga.
Operation Endsweep Closed and Task Force 78 Disbanded
July 27, 1973–Operation Endsweep was officially closed and Task Force 78 was disbanded. During the six months of its existence, the airborne element had made 3,554 sweeping runs totaling 1,134.7 sweeping hours in 623 sorties; the surface elements had made 208 sweeping runs of 308.8 hours. The aviation material casualties were three helicopters lost in operational accidents. Mine Logistics Carrier Station operations in the Gulf of Tonkin were conducted by Enterprise, Oriskany, Ranger, and Coral Sea at various periods and their respective aircraft flew support sorties for Operation Endsweep.
Skylab III Launched Into Space
July 28, 1973–Skylab III commanded by Captain Alan Bean, USN in company with civilian doctor Owen Garriott and Major Jack Lousma, USMC, was launched into space.
HSL-33, the Navy’s First Squadron Solely Dedicated to Deploy LAMPS
July 31, 1973. – HSL-33, the Navy’s first squadron solely dedicated to deploy LAMPS detachments aboard LAMPS-configured ships of the Pacific fleet, was established at NAS Imperial Beach, CA.
Cambodia Air Operations End
August 15, 1973–After intensive bombing for more than six months, the U.S. ended its combat involvement in Cambodia, as voted by Congress on 30 June. Aircraft from the carriers Ranger and Oriskany had conducted combat sorties in Cambodia during February. After March 1973, carriers on Yankee Station conducted carrier air patrols, electronic intelligence patrols, surface, subsurface, surveillance coordinator patrols, training, tanker, communications relay and reconnaissance sorties.
HM-12 Received the First of the New RH-53Ds Helicopters
August 29, 1973. – HM-12 received the first of the new RH-53Ds helicopters. Thirty units were produced for the Navy.
BQM-34E Firebee II Target Drone Test Flown
September 6, 1973–A BQM-34E Firebee II target drone, equipped with a wing of graphite-epoxy composite, was successfully test flown at the Point Mugu Sea Test Range reaching a speed of Mach 1.6 at 40,000 feet and a maximum acceleration of six Gs. The graphite-epoxy composite promises to save 40 percent of the weight of metal counterparts in various aeronautical applications. The test wing was designed and fabricated by the Naval Air Development Center.
Blues Switch to A-4s
September 7, 1973–The Navy announced that the Blue Angels flight demonstration team planned to switch to the slower, smaller and less expensive A-4F Skyhawks rather than continue to use the F-4J Phantoms they had been flying since 1969.
HC-1 Recovers Skylab III Astronauts
September 25, 1973–The three astronauts of Skylab III made a successful splashdown in the Pacific, ending a record 59-day, 24-million-mile flight. They were recovered by Helicopter Combat Support Squadron One and flown aboard New Orleans. During Skylab III, CAPT Alan L. Bean, USN, Commander of Skylab III, set a new record for the most time in space, eclipsing Navy CAPT Charles Conrad’s record of 49 days, three hours, and 37 minutes.
USS Midway and Airwing 5 Homeported in Japan
October 5, 1973–Midway with embarked CVW-5 put into Yokosuka, Japan, marking the first home-porting of a complete carrier task group in a Japanese port as a result of the accord arrived at on 31 August 1972, between the U.S. and Japan. In addition to the morale factor of dependents housed at a foreign port, the development had strategic significance because it facilitated continuous positioning of three carriers in the Far East at a time when the economic situation demanded the reduction of carriers in the fleet.
US Navy Carriers Standby for Evacuation Contingencies in the Middle East
October 8-13, 1973–Task Force 60.1 with Independence; Task Force 60.2 with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Task Force 61/62 with Guadalcanal were alerted for possible evacuation contingencies in the Middle East. Kennedy, in the Atlantic, was directed to a holding area off Gibraltar.
1973 Yom Kippur War
October 9, 1973–The Pentagon announced that Guadalcanal, an amphibious assault ship with U.S. Marines aboard, was operating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea as part of the Sixth Fleet. Other elements of the fleet were moving toward Crete, including the carriers Independence and Franklin D. Roosevelt, on alert as a result of the 1973 Yom Kippur war between Arab and Israeli forces.
US A-4s Flown to Isreal in Support of the War
October 19-24, 1973–Some 50 A-4 aircraft were flown from the U.S. to supply Israel, staging through the Azores and the Franklin D. Roosevelt which was located south of Sicily. When necessary, the Kennedy, off Gibraltar and Independence, off Crete, also provided assistance. On the 24th, Iwo Jima entered the Mediterranean with reinforcing Marines.
US Worldwide Alert
October 27, 1973–Due to the situation in the Middle East, the U.S. government ordered a worldwide “precautionary alert” of its military forces. Possible unilateral intervention by the Soviet Union was feared. By 28 October, three U.S. aircraft carriers and two amphibious assault carriers were off Crete.
Skylab IV Launched
November 16, 1973–Skylab IV, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Gerald P. Carr, USMC, and with a crew consisting of Lieutenant Colonel William R. Pogue, USAF, and Edward G. Gibson, civilian, was launched at the Kennedy Space Center. The scheduled 56-day “open-ended” space flight had among its aims, study of the Comet Kohoutek, earth resources, and the sun.
Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron
December 1, 1973–The Blue Angels became the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels) and was designated a shore activity located at NAS Pensacola.
USS Tarawa, LHA-1 Was Launched
December 7, 1973–The Tarawa, first of a new class of amphibious assault ships, was launched at Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Iwo Jima Departs Tunisia After Flood Relief
December 17, 1973–Iwo Jima departed Tunisia after three days of flood relief assistance by her helicopters which conducted refugee rescue, equipment deliveries and other flood associated missions.
First Women Navy Flight Surgeons
December 20, 1973–Two women physicians, Lieutenants Jane 0. McWilliams and Victoria M. Voge, graduated from the Naval Flight Surgeon Training Program, to become the first women naval flight surgeons.
Naval Air Engineering Center Relocates From Philly to NAS Lakehurst
December 20, 1973–The Naval Air Engineering Center was officially relocated from Philadelphia to NAS Lakehurst and authority and responsibility for the air station was reassigned to the Chief of Naval Material to be exercised through the Naval Air Systems Command. Subsequently, on 8 Jan 1974, the Air Station was placed under the Naval Air Engineering Center. Thereby, the basic organization arrangements involved in relocation of the Naval Air Engineering Center from League Island, Philadelphia to NAS Lakehurst were completed although the physical transfer would be phased over much of 1974. The relocation was part of the Shore Establishment Realignment announced by the Secretary of Defense in March of 1973. Thus, an affiliation between Naval Aviation and the League Island site at Philadelphia, which began with the establishment of the Naval Aircraft Factory in 1917, was terminated except for a few residual aviation oriented functions.
NAS Ellyson Field Becomes Naval Education aand Training Program Development Center
December 31, 1973̵