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Helicopters

We did a lot of our surveys by helicopter because frequently they were the only reasonable way to get to places in the short window allowed for a gravity survey line.

Our helicopters were all Hiller OH23Fs, which of the 6 OH23 variants(A,B,C,D,F,G) was the only one with an extended cabin, allowing 3 passengers behind the single-seat pilot's position.

Early models of the OH23 (called UH12 originally) were used in Korea, and were common on the MASH TV show. We had the Medevac version, with stretcher baskets on both sides. The baskets were important to us, because we carried multiple 20-liter containers of fuel on them to extend our range.

The tins were considered a valuable commodity by remote villagers; we used to joke that somebody would pop up out to the ground to get them before we finished fueling. It was mostly true.

I have no memory of what happened with the crashed helicopter in the first couple of pictures below, but I know from the scenery that it was in Tabriz. I probably wasn't there when it crashed.

I'm in the sixth picture, leaning against the chopper. On Facebook I posted that one, and said "Back when I was skinny and had hair!" That picture was taken up on a hill above the Caspian.

Our pilots were mostly (all?) civilians, former warrant officers who had Viet Nam service. They were pretty casual, such as flying along with feet on the instrument panel.

Much of the time we flew with two aircraft, with one flying "cover" in the event of a problem. Occasionally cover was from a fixed-wing aircraft.

I think the TTT got one or more jet helicopters after my time, particularly because they could operate a lot higher than the OH23.

I don't know why the pictures of my helmet turned out so orange. The originals are a lot worse, and that's about the best I could do with them.
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