BigWindow BackArrow top
War Stories

Broomstick Flying - OH-6 Cayuse

Cyclic control on the left side of the OH-6 was sometimes removed or replaced with a broomstick since it was in the way of the left seat gunner.
Was it common during your tour for the LOH Scout crews to fly with no cyclic stick on the left side? It makes sense, particularly if the Observer was also a gunner wielding an M60 on a bungee cord.

Bob Forringer, Jim Kreil, Wayne Moose, Gary Jones, Bruce Karn


Bob Forringer's first video from the 2016 Reunion talks about where he flew the LOH with an 8 inch broomstick in an emergency situation.

Jim Kreil: I think it was pretty common, I remember several incidents when the observer gunner took over when the pilot was hit. Rocky Rhodes did that. Also having bungee cords being sent from home. Being a motorcyclist before Viet Nam having my father send bungee cords. I also remember Bill Busygin getting his M60 machine gun shot out of his hands, I forget who he was flying as observer gunner with.

Gary Jones: See my story Violating LOH Rules where Rocky Rhodes grabbed the broomstick when I was wounded in Sep 1969.

Wayne Moose: Said that all the LOH's had the Broomstick control during his time (1972-72). It allowed the gunner to turn his body to the left without his legs hitting the controls.

Bob Forringer located this photo online showing how another unit did their left seat cyclic:


Bruce Karn: I was reading the newsletter and saw the question about flying with a "Broomstick". I thought that was standard for all scout observers!! After a scout pilot has an observer whack the cyclic a time or two when he is thrashing around trying to bring fire on the target while the pilot is taking evasive action the removal of the cyclic becomes a necessity. But then the observer and crew chief want to survive if the pilot gets shot! And the pilot would really appreciate being saved and not crash and burn if shot. So the solution was to put a "Broomstick" or pipe or something in the place of the cyclic that didn't stick up above the observers knees. That would prevent the observer from hitting it accidentally and yet give hime something to fly with. My aircraft 035 had a short piece of pipe. But I can also tell you that the muzzle of a CAR-15 fit perfectly into the cyclic hole. And as the OH-6 instructor pilot I flew with a pipe, a broomstick, and a CAR-15 from the left seat.

On many missions I had the observer do a little flying either coming or going from the actual mission and some of them got really good! I had them fly approaches and some could hover really well! On one occasion I flew to Long Bin to pick up a pilot (and I believe it was "Moose"). Our passenger rode in the back seat and I let the observer do the flying. When we arrived at Cu Chi when our passenger got out of the aircraft he said to me, " I didn't know we had a black pilot in the scout platoon." (The observer that day was SP Thornberry who was black.) I told our passenger that he wasn't a pilot but a very good observer that could fly and do approaches, takeoffs, or anything else that was needed.

And on occasions, an OH-6 instructor pilot, I flew the left seat using a pipe, or a broomstick or CAR-15. You just have to use the floor button to talk on the intercom or transmit on radio. Well, you also have to bend over a bit more to reach the stick and you can't adjust the trim so you either ask the pilot to adjust it or overcome it with a bit more force. (It's much different than flying with a loose limp HUEY cyclic!)