Boeing Vertol(Piasecki) CH-21B 'Workhorse'
Pictures Courtesy of Steve Remington
53-4324 Shaky Magoo<
Crashed near Holloman AFB, NM
CH-21B 53-4348 Crashed at HIRAN Site 19, 80 NM NE of Santarem, BR, 8 SEP 1961
The aircraft accident happened at a remote jungle clearing 80 nautical miles NE of Santarem, Brazil. It involved a VERTOL CH-21B 53-4348, on 8 SEP 1961, at 1150 local time. Prior to the accident, all flying in Brazil had been curtailed due to the political situation in that country. Consequently, all aircraft assigned to AST 5 were stationed at Atkinson Field, British Guiana, with the exception of H-21 348, which was in place at Santarem, BR. All HIRAN Ground Station sites in Brazil had been advised by radio to ration their food, water, and fuel supply due to the curtailment of flying.
On 5 SEP 1961, The U.S. Consul in Belem, BR, contacted the AST 5 Commander and requested his assistance in an emergency rescue of Brazilian and American scientists on the Jari River in Brazil. Permission was obtained by the AST Commander from Brazilian officials to accomplish this rescue, and to complete an emergency resupply of HIRAN Ground Station 19. As both missions were classified as emergencies, the H-21 attempted the flights without the usual coverage provided by the C-47 aircraft.
On 8 SEP 1961, the AST Commander informed the H-21 crew at Santarem, BR, to resupply Site 19 with two 55 gallon drums of 80 octane gasoline. It was during this routine resupply flight that the crash occurred.
The flight to the site was routine. During the approach, at approximately 15 feet above ground, the aircraft began to settle suddenly. The pilot attempted to slow the descent and cushion the impact. He was partially successful and the actual touchdown was not severe. One wheel struck a solid object, however, and the aircraft suddenly bounced into the air, veering to the right over the edge of a tree covered mountain slope. The pilot attempted to return the aircraft to the landing pad by banking sharply to the left.
The left main landing gear struck a tree stump during the turn, causing the H-21 to roll over on its left side. The crew deplaned without injury, as the engine section burst into flames. The pilot suffered a badly sprained ankle as he evacuated the area. No other injuries were sustained by ground or aircrew personnel. The aircraft was destroyed by post impact fire. The accident investigation board determined the primary cause of the accident to be unsatisfactory landing pad conditions.
Accident report from AFHRA Archives at Maxwell AFB, AL, by Charles Alvis