top of page

U.S. Learning Hard Lessons about Helicopters in Vietnam

Jan. 18, 1963 - The crash of an H-21 transport helicopter killing seven Americans aboard, including five pilots, has underlined a hard lesson for Americans in Vietnam. Americans who are used to the best equipment in the world are going daily into tough battle situations with what they regard as substandard equipment. American helicopter pilots say the H-21 is too old, that most of the craft are in desperate need of repairs, and that the demanding combat conditions in Vietnam are taking an increasingly heavy mechanical toll. “The H-21 here,” one pilot said, “is an accident looking for a place to happen.” For many Americans in Vietnam, the weekend H-21 crash, attributed to mechanical failure, was an especially bitter blow. In addition to the four-man regular crew aboard, the craft carried three pilots who were going to Saigon for a special week off because they had carried such a heavy burden during the battle of Ap Bac a week before. Sixteen other Americans had already died in helicopters during last year’s American buildup in Vietnam.


bottom of page