Humorous Helicopter Article
Bacon And Eggs
My Squadron was going to Vietnam. Maybe the first Marine Squadron to deploy as a unit since WWII. This type of deployment had some major benefits. All the life insurance salesmen were offering low group rates and I still have my policy. We were taking everything we owned except the aircraft and we would get aircraft in country. Prior to this deployment, we were flying with tan and orange flight suits. Vietnam called for a new green flight suit and machine guns in the aircraft. We practiced with fixed guns and that didnít work very well. The door and window gunners in the back were standing on a slippery slope as the pilot bought his fixed guns to bear on a target. We cancelled the fixed gun project. With everyone shooting at the same time, the door and window gunners could shoot their own aircraft down.
Marble Mountain Auxiliary Airfield was still being built as we arrived. We lived and worked in tents. The living got better after a mess hall and showers were built. We found that C-rations can make a Marine fat unless he is running up and down hills. Beer drinkers lost some weight because we didnít have any.
We flew at one thousand feet or more to avoid small arms fire. It was cool at that altitude, almost like air-conditioning. Later when the VC got bigger guns, we flew at two thousand feet and hoped for the best. While flying at one thousand feet, we had this wonderful aroma fill the cabin. It smelled like bacon and eggs. I looked out the window to see who was cooking breakfast. Nothing but rice paddies down below and then the aircraft was very quiet. The engine had stopped and the blades were turning with negative pitch. No one said anything as we auto-rotated to the ground. We were lucky that we had a talented pilot and a good place to land. He made a three-point soft landing in the middle of the firebase that we were going to re-supply. We looked like a big target sitting on a ridgeline with a Marine perimeter all around us. The firebase Marines didnít like having a target in their space. They though the aircraft would draw fire during the night. The engine was replaced and the aircraft flew out the same day.
Where did the smell come from? Radial engines that power the UH-34D have cylinders, pistons, and valves. The valves are filled with sodium to help dissipate the heat and thatís what you smell when you cook bacon and eggs in a skillet. If you smell salt cooking in a radial engine, itís going to stop running soon.