At Soc Trang, we used to evacuate our aircraft when Charlie would mortar us (about twice a month), on my first emergency evacuation under fire, I ran out to the flight line, located my ship and proceeded to crank up, (we always set the cockpit configuration the day before, so all we had to do was untie the blades, hit the battery switch and pull the start switch) as I did that, some others climbed on board, as we lifted off, I got the aircraft stabilized in climb configuration, and motioned for the PP to take the controls so I could strap in, plug my flight helmet, fasten the chin strap and tie up my boots, as I was doing this, my PP starts saying "we have no airspeed"
over and over again (and apparently he was transmitting as well, the whole flight was listening). I look and sure enough no indicated A/S! I figured we got hit in the nose, but I also turned on the pitot heat, the PP had the collective up into his armpit and still pulling, with the nose almost vertically down, so I took the controls from him, reduced power and brought the nose back to almost level, as I looked out the windshield, I could see the other aircraft in orbit forming up for our preplanned destination, Bac Lieu.
I also noticed that we were closing on the flight very rapidly, we went smoking by them like a rocket ship!
Still no A/S indication, as I was turning back towards the rendezvous, the AS indicator started working, indicating 120kts, I continued to slow the aircraft and finally joined up. On arrival at Bac Lieu, we shut down and I went immediately went to the front of the aircraft to see what damage we had sustained, no apparent damage, but in looking at the pitot tube, I noticed a red streamer and the remains of the cover, someone had put the pitot tube cover on the day before and we neglected to remove it before flight, had other things on our mind! The Pitot heat had finally burned through the cover, allowing us to have A/S indications. I have no idea how fast we may have been going, but it had to be well over 120kts, the others in the flight said we went by them like an F100 in AB.
Never did that again, made sure that the pitot tube cover was NOT put on the aircraft after that episode.
White Knight '65
114th Avn Co (AML)
A Co 101st Avn Bn
Soc Trang RVN
SE Texas PGR
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