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Survival Story Helicopter

A Survival Story – Near Crash in the Jungle

In the mid to late 1970s, I served as a Navy helicopter rescue aircrewman with a squadron in San Diego. While shore-based, I wanted more action. Our squadron had a deployed unit supporting hydrographic charting missions in Panama. In 1977, I requested and deployed to HSL-31 detachment Bravo, or “DET B” as we knew it. I didn’t realize that deployment would come with a survival story.

How it’s Supposed to Work

island of the survival story

The Way Things Happened

Before explaining what happened next, it’s important to explain some flight dynamics that led to trouble. Helicopter blades spinning counter-clockwise at 600 RPM can pull the aircraft to the right. When hovering into dense jungle the rotor wash creates a large wind tunnel. The environment forced our helo toward the right. Then we violently felt each impact.


The Flight Back – A Survival Story

The pilot hovered and proceeded toward the ship. Manufacturers construct Helicopter blades of a honey-comb material. If damaged, the blades could disintegrate. The pilot called out on the radio:

“Chauvenet… this is Tango Delta One Seven… We’re inbound for an emergency landing… we hit a tree.”

Helicopter survival story returning to the ship

Thoughts After the Incident

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