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War Stories

Holy Crap Moment

Tom Olsson

Cobra pilot "Centaur 50", 1969-70

I think all Cobra pilots have a 'holy crap' moment while they were flying. Mine was as a new AC in a AH-1G flying between Cu Chi and Tay Ninh at 3000 feet AGL as wingman in a light fire team (2 Cobras). I do not remember who was in my front seat but asked him to get the team artillery clearance up highway 1 to Tay Ninh; it was the wingman’s responsibility to get the clearance.

Wingover The answer came back that we were in the gun target line for an ongoing artillery shoot! As I heard this over the radio it scared me so much that I rolled the Cobra 180 degrees (completely upside down) to the right. THAT scared me even more than the artillery! So I rolled the helicopter back to the left to upright. A quick second though and this time I did a Split S, rolling the Cobra again to the right 180 degrees and then pulling back on the cyclic doing a half loop to end up a 1000 feet AGL going the opposite direction and out of the gun target line.

Some time during all this I called lead to inform him of the artillery problem.

The Lead ship did a more conventional wingover as in Bruce Sikkema's photo. We formed up and flew out of the area.

There was a lot of hanger flying on that one that evening back in Cu Chi.