My brother from another mother John Strayer reminds me that I’ve forgotten for the first time since that 1/26/13 date to commemorate our survival of a helicopter crash

Mea culpa.

Maybe it’s a sign that I’ve finally gotten over the survival euphoria.  (My significant other calls it “survival mania.”)

Or maybe just a sign that we’re all going through a way bigger crash of another sort today.

Some things don’t change, though.

John’s lovely wife Terri and my very own Evil Princess still tell us in unison, firmly: “No! More! Helicopters!  EVER!!”

And we still reply, “Aw, we just need bigger, newer helicopters…”

So far, John and I are not winning those arguments…

…but we’re still grateful that we remain here to talk about it.


  1. Listen to the ladies & the Lord whom thou shalt not tempt! We need you among the living more now than ever it seems. From a fellow old geezer, Bill

  2. I recall that on my second honeymoon, the then wife wanted to do the helo ride for an air view of Niagra Falls. My response was: “You don’t watch the news much do you?” Not long before one of the tour helos lost power and everyone went for a swim. Above the falls, but not by much.

    I suppose it’s different if you’re inside and the door(s) are closed, but I’ll pass. Maybe I’d change my mind if Mas rode along, but having a bunch of guys who’d already been in a crash aboard didn’t keep Chalk One from crashing on the bin Laden raid.

  3. IF you decide to risk the wrath of better-half judgement and sneak off again in “a flying bucket of bolts,” do you have helicopter rescue insurance? ‘Way cheaper than a $50,000 rescue by whirlybird. And what could possibly go wrong twice, right? When riding in the old Army Huey one always enjoyed the view. Guarantees from the pilot of safe auto-rotation in case of emergency were at least somewhat comforting. A friend who owned two helos said that he liked them because he could hover all day in a 60-mph wind. On the other hand, with other pilots, both birds eventually went in. Not to point weapons up towards the rotor blades always helps your popularity with the aircrew. An NG officer says that any chance of an emergency visual hail of a helo in sunny daylight from the ground depends on a mirror.

  4. As a former Army Huey Crew Chief – Door Gunner who had a few “hard landings” in and around the Mekong Delta, I salute y’all and your attitude and resilience.

  5. Mas, are you sure those sneaky hogs you were trying to hunt did not get their hooves on some Stinger missiles?

  6. I love choppers! They are the very best to see the most elusive game animals, especially in Southern Africa! Can’t wait to get in the air again!

  7. Massad…eight years as a helicopter crash survivor and going strong…congratulations!!! It has been said “That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” which has been true for me. Be well, stay well. Looking forward…Chris

  8. It was near Dona Anna Base Camp in N.M. that the Huey Iroquois model D or was it E? Lost all power and went into “auto rotate” a fancy term for controlled crash.Since we were flying nap of the earth it wasn’t that far down to terra firma and the skids collapsed when we hit like they’re designed to do to absorb some of the impact. Pucker factor 9.9. We all walked away ok except for the crick in my neck to this day. The cool part is that a Sky Crane was dispatched from FT. Bliss to recover the downed bird which was an impressive operation in itself. I loved riding in helicopters and I wouldn’t refuse ride today if offered.

  9. I had one great perfect ride over Sedona years ago, no wind, bright sun, no crash…like sitting on my sofa but looking down at great terrain. Maybe I used up all my helicopter luck…

  10. To the tune of Simin and Garfunkel “Still Crazy”. After All These Years… (crash free) pls stay that way. Lol. Close only counts in hand grenades nukes and chopper crashes. A friend survived a vintage C47 crash / burn on takeoff a few years back.

  11. I got all the helicopter rides I needed in SE Asia.
    My working theory is that a helicopters really can’t fly. I mean, just look at them. The only thing that keeps them in the air are that the pilots* are crazy enough to believe helicopters can fly.

    * With honor and respect to the pilots who got us where we needed to go, resupplied us, and got us the h*ll out of Dodge when we had to git.

    • I can relate to your theory, Larry. I read somewhere that the F-117 “can’t fly” either but remains airborne due to the intricacy of its on-board computers constantly making adjustments. And I still experience childlike moments of wonder and doubt when I think about how especially large planes–747s and B-52s–manage it. The same goes for large ships, how something made of thousands of tons of steel float. And while I understand enough of the physics behind it, there will likely forever remain that bit of doubt and suspicion. Thanks for your service, and best wishes.

    • Helicopters do not fly. They beat the air into submission!

      This is from a fixed wing pilot. 🙂

      Rich Boll

  12. Give it at least one more shot. Then your helicopter experiences can end on a happy note if you so choose. Skydiving is an alternative….

  13. Glad you all made it and are still among the mortals to tell about it. Maybe age has crept in and forgetting is much easier than it used to be. My wife calls it selective memory and hearing. To all, stay safe and on guard in our current situation with the new administration.

  14. Congratulations on the anniversary of not being killed. I don’t like helicopters and I expect the ladies are correct. I moved here from Texas and have a friend back home who has one and keeps trying to take me up. I still politely decline.

  15. Mas, I FINALLY have some metric in which I beat you!!!!! You have gone about eight years crash free, with respect to helicopters. My most recent flight was a maximum range relief flight in Nicaragua on 2 Jan 1999. We were in a Chinook, four tonnes relief supplies, about twelve personnel, and gone all day. US Army. I’ve been helicopter crash free for longer than you have…… a first for me.

  16. For me, it is 7/25/75 and 11/3/79 …… I tried assisted survival euphoria (alcohol) from the second. It does not work very well. My “Fairy Princess” helped me out of the crater from that. Stay safe……..

  17. Three very lucky gentlemen (and ladies, too, by the way). With the exception of the crashing part, that looks like loads of fun; I can fully understand the appeal. It’s good for everyone–or for most, I would hope–to take a moment to reflect on one’s good fortune and blessings, and what better time than the present to do so. Which reminds me of a rather awkwardly phrased yet valid expression I recall from my youth: “Don’t be sad at how it is, just be glad at how it isn’t.” What was determined the exact cause of the crash? (Love the alliteration in the text messages, by the way.)

  18. Back on the 4th of July of 1995, my older brother wanted to go on one of the helicopter rides being offered at the Washington State Soldier’s Home. Once we got on the grounds, I (having been in the army) started showing him around an M60 tank that had recently been emplaced as a memorial and because of that, we missed the helicopter, but watched it take off with a mother and her 13 year old daughter aboard. Flying low along a riverbed, they hit a thick steel cable strung across the river and crashed on a sandbar. Thankfully, nobody was killed, but that was the last year the helicopters were there.

  19. Mas, next time you want to hunt hogs from the air, try a jet pack. It worked great for 007 in Thunderball. Those swine won’t stand a chance.

    • Tom606,

      There is an episode of “Gilligan’s Island” in which Gilligan goes up with a jet pack. Jet packs seem modern, but since that show aired more than fifty years ago, I guess jet packs are old-fashioned now.

      • The packs using high pressure water jets to lift people at the beach and lakes looks like fun, and fairly safe as one cannot go up too high and you’re over water in case it fails.

  20. The most dangerous place to be is in combat. The second most dangerous place to be is in a car on a public highway. Get a horse.

  21. Harry Reasoner’s famous missive about helicopters and helicopter pilots:

    “The thing is, helicopters are different from planes. An airplane by its very nature wants to fly and, if not interfered with too strongly by unusual events or by a deliberately incompetent pilot, it will fly. A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other and, if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance, the helicopter stops flying; immediately and disastrously. There is no such thing as a gliding helicopter.”

    “This is why being a helicopter pilot is so different from being an airplane pilot, and why in generality, airplane pilots are open, clear-eyed, buoyant extroverts, and helicopter pilots are brooding introspective anticipators of trouble. They know if something bad has not happened it is about to.”

    Harry Reasoner

    February 16, 1971

  22. I have been a passenger on airplanes many times. I have had trips in everything from a turboprop short haul airplane up to giant DC-10’s and 747’s. BTW, I agree with Glenn from TN; the huge airplanes look too big to fly. Fortunately, no airplane ever crashed with me onboard although I certainly have my share of “bad luck” flight and airport stories!

    However, I have never set foot in a helicopter and, therefore, can not offer any useful commentary based upon experience.

    I am curious about one thing and would ask the following question:

    Mas, you have written on multiple occasions about the physical response of the human body to traumatic events. This may include effects such as tunnel vision and distortion of our perception of time during the event. It may also include stress-related symptoms after the fact. For example, an inability to sleep (insomnia) or nightmares. Or, perhaps, an obsessive need to talk (or write) about the event (after the fact) so as to share it. 🙂

    This helicopter crash was clearly a traumatic event. Did you experience any physical effects during or after this event? Any effects that might be similar to surviving an armed confrontation?

    • IIRC,TN,I discussed this in detail in the comments in the original 1/26/13 post that should be linked in this one.

      • Mas,
        While your original post contains a lot of information such as:

        1) The reason for the flight (Hog Hunt with Revolvers) and
        2) A description of the crash
        3) and photographs of the event.

        I do not see anything directly related to physical stress effects. Either during the incident or afterwards (Post Traumatic).

        Are you sure that you addressed this question? Or, perhaps, it was in a different post?

      • TN, my apologies. I was thinking of one of the subsequent posts on the matter. It took a long time for FAA to publish the results of their investigation. Turns out there was ice on the carburetor that was missed in what seemed to be a very thorough pre-flight check on an unseasonably cold morning.

      • Mas I ran across an incident in Las Vegas last week which might make a good Ayoob File. Did you want details or a link?

      • Mas, the story is on the Las Vegas Sun internet page, and the title is “Metro IDs Officer Involved In Shooting Outside Gun Range”, dated 02/07/2021. Basically it concerns an edged weapon armed suspect who was shot dead when he was being evicted from the facility and stabbed a female officer (she’s all right) when they got him outside. But the really different thing about this case is that although her partner, with just over 2 years on the force, opened fire , there were also 3 armed citizens present who did the same thing. Metro released a press release also, which praised the armed citizens for stepping up and assisting in resolving the situation.

  23. I watched my DVD of Blackhawk Down again last night. Good thing that hordes of angry hogs did not converge on your helicopter after it crashed to exact revenge, Mas.

  24. A helo is an interesting contraption. By its very design, it tries to tear itself apart. Words other than exhilarating come to mind. I recall a jet I was in where the landing gear didn’t work properly. That was exhilarating.

    I’m glad you survived, Mas.

  25. Right now a helicopter ride sounds like a good way to take refuge somewhere in a country that no longer has a sane or healthy executive branch, a sane or healthy Congress, an involved or conscientious supreme Court, a security-oriented Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, a scientifically sound Secretary of State, an honest or competent medical department, or a public educational system. Ironically, all direct or indirect products of a dubious election that has at least temporarily unseated the best economically expert President we have ever had. Time still remains for sensible politicians from all parties to join to peacefully restore Trump before March 4. Otherwise real Hell will break loose from everywhere. Rest assured.

  26. Walked away from one helicopter crash . . . for a lot of folks once is enough.

    Glad you’re still with us.

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