Tuesday, December 26, 2017

I was a "CIA Super Pilot" for AIR AMERICA--press release


here is the press release about my new book:


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Helicopter RVs

I found this article about Winnebago making RV's from H-55s and H-34s.
I believe I may have flown one of these after it was reconfigured back to utility status.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Close Calls


            “Did you ever have any close calls?” is almost always the first question I get whenever I tell people I flew helicopters for 32 years. My immediate response is, “Yes, of course.” I read recently a report by an old-time WW2 fighter pilot. When asked that same question, his response was, “Every time I take one of these sumbitches off the ground it’s a close call!” I can honestly say I came up with the same phrase before I read it in that WW2 pilot’s book.
And … I can beat his story.

One day I had a close call before I even started my engine.

I got my aircraft assignment from operations at Udorn. I walked out to my H-34 on the ramp, did my pre-flight inspection, and climbed into the H-34 to prepare for a normal six-day trip up country. I began the pre-start check-off checklist:

            First item:                 Battery switch                                 ON      I pushed it down.

            Second item:           Electrical driven fuel pump          ON      I toggled it up.

I checked the fuel pressure gauge: fuel pressure within normal limits.

What wasn't within normal limits was the spray of raw fuel jetting from behind the instrument panel. The gage was known as a “direct reading” gage which means that a small fuel line from the fuel pump was connected directly to the back of the gauge. That line had broken off at the back of the gage. Raw fuel of the highest octane began to spray all over me and the cockpit. It quickly filled the cockpit with a mist of highly volatile fuel-air mixture. Raw fuel in the proper fuel-air mixture is more explosive than dynamite! The smell of raw fuel filled my nostrils.
Fuel was running down the back of the instrument panel, past several switches and dripping onto the radio console below. None of the radios was yet turned on, but the relays and busses to them might now be hot with electricity. The smallest spark would ignite that fuel vapor. I knew I would not survive the explosion. I also knew that even if it did not explode, as soon as the raw fuel reached any ignition source there would be fire.
I had to make an instantaneous decision. Quicker than you can snap your fingers, I had to choose between abandoning the helicopter or trying to correct the situation by switching the battery switch to the OFF position. I knew that if I jumped out of the helicopter, the fuel would continue to flow. If (when!) the helicopter caught on fire, the magnesium alloy would soon ignite and in 15 seconds the entire helicopter would be violently consumed. Jumping out would have also put my Flight Mechanic (FM) at risk. He stood beside the helicopter with a fire extinguisher at the ready, as he always did, in case of an engine fire on start. What we were facing here was much more dangerous that an engine fire on start.
Did I want to leave my FM with an explosive situation while I ran away? Did I want to risk being some of the ashes? Should I bail or stay? I might escape with nothing more than fuel-soaked clothing, but the helicopter might very well burn up, and we both might be badly hurt or killed trying to extinguish the fire or by the exploding helicopter.
            No, I could not bail out and put my FM at risk. I never had an FM I did not like and respect. I did not wish to put him at risk.
            I quickly snapped the battery switch up to the OFF position. There was no spark. It seems I made the right decision.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Some old vets need help

Dear friends,

Air America was always called a CIA proprietary, not part of the U S Government.

Recent investigations show that employees of Air America were actually employed directly by the U S Government.

Many the senior pilots were retired US military pilots. Their time with Air Am should be added to their retirement time, but for years they have been denied this increase to their pensions.
A book, "Honor Denied" by Air America pilot Allen Cates goes into detail if you want to get into it. This has been going thru congress for 13 years!

This is not an attempt to get money from the government for nothing. These guys put their lives on the line daily in service to their country. This increase in retirement is owed to them;  they earned it.

Please call your senators and ask them to support Senator Reid's NDAA Amendment 4215. This is a non-partisan item and will be part of the National defense allocations to be voted on this week.
Please call your senator first thing Monday the 6th of June. 

if you are in Idaho, please call Senator Crapo's assistant Sierra Robinson at 208-224-6142 and help our old vets get what is due them.
also  give Senator Risch the same message.

for those of you in other states, your senator's numbers are readily available on line on probably in your daily newspaper.

I thank you for all the old Air Am veterans.

disclaimer:  I do not have a dog in this fight;  I am not doing this to increase my income.

bill collier
Air America pilot June 1970 to December 1972.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Two Marines walk into a bar...

This is a true story, It happened last Friday night.

Mt wife and I went to our nearby winery to listen to one of favorite musical groups, Sadie Wagoner and her father Mike. They are fantastic. Want to hear the greatest ever rendition of HALLELUJAH just google "Sadie Wagoner...Hallelujah,"  Here is the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5fhIEv635U   But that is not what this post is about.

At the bar, I was talking to a friend, Rex and his wife Annie,  Rex asked me how my book sales were going, so we started discussing it.  Another Marine down the bar heard our conversation and asked to talk to me about my USMC and Vietnam experience. I had never met this Marine before. We sat down, had a drink and and did the usual thing comparing experiences. Turns out he was atop the Rockpile observation post that I landed on to resupply the troops up there. In telling him that I landed there, I showed him my bookmark that shows the cover of my book, an H-34 landing on the platform.

 He said, "I built that platform."

Here is a link to a story about this Marine I met, Roy Calhoun:
He just recently was awarded a Silver Star for his heroic actions in Vietnam in 1967.


I think we have the beginning of a great friendship.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Ravens in Laos during the Vietnam War

The Air Force had small spotter planes looking for the enemy and interdicting the supply chain on the
Ho Chi Minh Trail.  These guys had brass balls the size of baseballs.


One of these guys was shot down on January 31st, 1972.
I managed to find him and rescue him with a high-hover hoist rescue with my H-34.

see "The Rescue of Raven 1-1" on you tube:  link:


For this rescue I received no medals, no rewards except knowing I had helped a fellow aviator out of a tight.
34 years later, he bought me a bottle of Scotch.