As soon as I lifted off, the engine started coughing and sputtering! Something was not right… obviously. I set the ship back down (it most likely settled itself back down due to the lack of power and diminishing rotor RPM), and the engine sprang back to life. What?
That night in the spring of 1967 our mission was to transport about 15 wounded marines from the Phu Bai marine base, nine miles southeast of Hue on Vietnam’s coastal plain, to the hospital ship USS Repose about 15 miles off the coast in the South China Sea.
Autorotations are maneuvers that sound and look really scary to the non-pilot. Before I started my training, I had watched many YouTube videos on the subject. I was pretty nervous about my first one. After all, this is an emergency procedure. And an emergency in an aircraft is never a good thing.
A funny but informative article about the joys and miseries of helicopter flying:
Helicopter pilots aren’t born with paranoid tendencies; it can take upwards of two thousand hours of flying to realize that you’re smack dab in the center of a million parts rotating rapidly around an oil leak waiting for metal fatigue to set in.