Spad Recovery:

 In early 1968, an A-1E aircraft had battle damage and had to make a forced landing about 40 miles from Udorn RTAFB, Thailand. The 20th was asked to make a recovery attempt to bring the A-1E back to Udorn. 

We knew that the CH-3 would not lift the A-1 intact so with some checking and figuring it was determined that we could probably lift it if the engine was removed.  The ground crew removed the engine and we hooked on to it with a short sling line and carried it back to Udorn, no problem.

The A-1 fuselage might be something else.  Would it swing around and become uncontrollable?  Someone scrounged up a small drag chute that we attached to the tail of the aircraft.  That oughta’ do it.  Now all we have to do is get it off the ground.  We had started in the early morning when temperatures were cooler but by this time it was later in the morning and getting warmer.  We had figured the fuel down to a ‘gnats ass’ if we could make at least 60 knots or so back to the airfield.  I hooked on to the A-1 fuselage and it was all I could do to get it off the ground.  Wow, now how do I get into translational lift.  I used all my skills from thousands of hours to nurse the H-3 forward.  After cheating (just a little) on power, we finally made through translational lift and reduction of power.  Away we go!  As our airspeed increased to about 30 knots we felt an increasing shudder the helicopter. Rats, its oscillating. The crew chief looked out the door and saw that the A-1 was trialing straight, thanks to the drag chute but the wings would start to fly if I went more that 30 knots.  It must be getting translational lift, too!  Well, here we are with an airplane in tow, flying at a very slow speed, with only fuel enough to make it at Twice the speed. When the fuel gauges began to go below the empty mark, with us still several miles from the airfield, we began to seriously look for clear spots to put the bird down if necessary.  With both fuel low lights on we reached the edge of the field and I put the A-1 down as soon as I could so I wouldn’t flame out on top of it. The ground recovery guys were a little miffed that I didn’t put it right in front of their shop but were OK when I told them of my fuel situation. At least I had enough fuel to taxi in.

by KV