Sunday, July 22, 2018

H-34 Charlie never looked so good!

A beautiful young lady approached us this week asking if she could do a photo shoot at H-34 Charlie.
She has invented an easy-to-use concealed-carry holster for women (and men, too).
Of course we agreed.
How could we not?
Here are some pictures from the photo shoot with smashingly beautiful Kristina:

The concealed - carry holster she created.

For those of you who want to buy your sweetie something unique for a birthday or
Christmas present, take a look at this:     (soon to be available in several colors.

Captain Bill Collier, who writes this blog, adopted H-34 Charlie in early 2011 when he learned that the old hulk was about to be shredded if no one adopted it. He rallied his friends at Vietnam Veterans Chapter 890, Sandpoint, Idaho, and they unanimously agreed to support Bill's effort to save the old beastie. it will never fly again, but they tow it through town for the 4th of July Parade and other functions. If you want to know more and see pictures, see previous posts. 

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the cause, donations are always appreciated.  Send a check to Vietnam Veterans of America, Charlie project, P O  Box 2014, Sandpoint, ID 83864

Captain Collier flew about 7,000 hours in helicopters over 32 years. A majority of his flight time was in H-34s. flew more than 40 different models of helicopter. That is if you count the H-34 C, D, G, J, and T models as different models. He also flew UH-1s, the H, N, Super Huey, Cobra, and several other versions of the Huey. He flew several versions of the Jet Ranger, including one cobbed together from various models know as the "Jet Stranger."
He also flew Hiller 1100s, and flew the French-built Alouette III on Forest Service contracts in California. 

Capt. Collier has written two books about his flying experiences. The first one is:

And the second one is about his experience flying helicopters in Laos for Air America, the air force of the CIA:

If you buy his books, he sincerely requests that you go to amazon and write him a review. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Marine Helicopters in Korea ... the H-19.

The H-19 was the predecessor to the H-34.

At this time, the Marine Corps called it the "Cavalry of the Skies."

The U S Army later co-opted the name and called it the Air Cavalry, or Air Cav.

A reminder: I wrote a book about flying H-34 in Vietnam.
If you have read my book, I ask you to be so kind as to go to amazon and write a review.
Thank you. It has a rating of 4.7 stars with more than 50 reviews.

If you have not bought and read my book, then please consider doing so.
Paperbacks are $20.00;  ebooks are $5.00.

Any interest in an audio version?  if so,
email me at

I also wrote a second book about flying for Air America in Laos called,
"CIA Super Pilot Spills the Beans."
Also available on amazon; same prices.
This book has a 4.6 rating with more than 30 reviews.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Helicopter strikes vehicle; thousands lost!

For several years now, we have been towing Helicopter Charlie to the "LOST in 50's" old time car show in downtown Sandpoint. We love our old 1957 H-34 helicopter and plan to keep using it to gather donations for our basic cause of helping veterans in need, and attracting new members.  This past May was no exception, only this time we had a little mis-hap.

When our tow driver was making a turn to position the old H-34 into position, he swung the turn a little too wide, causing the tail of the helicopter to swing around and  scrape along the side of one of the show cars ... a candy apple red 1971 Chevy El Camino SS! It was a beautiful car ... until then.

I was walking the tail just to avoid such a problem. I could see that the tail was going to hit the Chevy, and I yelled loudly for the driver to stop. He did not hear me.

We have since bought a pair of walkie-talkies to prevent such future accidents.

Here is the broken tail handling handle of the helicopter, showing 
where it finally  stopped scraping along the side of the auto.

This shows where we broke off the side view mirror. 
Amazingly enough, the driver's window was not broken.

Close up shots of the damage to the front of the door area.
The windshield wqs broken in two places.
The descending part of the vinyl roof was ruined, 
necessitating an complete new vinyl top.

All the dirt came from inside the tail of the old machine, 
 where it accumulated as it sat in the desert near 
Tucson, AZ for decades.

I truly expected the owner of the Chevy to look me up and poke me in the eye. 
He did not. He was very philosophical about the whole thing. 
Love those mellow Canadians.

Front side panel where the tail first impacted.

At the end of the car show, the owner of the Chevy got a trophy. 
The Hardship trophy goes to the person who had the most trouble 
getting their car to and into the car show. 

What could be more trouble than getting hit by a helicopter?

Damage to the left front quarter panel.

A few months later, the chicken have come home to roost, so to speak. The total bill for this event was just over $6,000 Canadian. Too bad we didn't settle it sooner when the Canadian dollar was weaker. 6k Canadian is going to be about $5,000 US.

Our tow meister requested that this not be put on his auto insurance. I could only agree. So I have paid this out of pocket, and am now asking H-34 Charlie fans to contribute to the cause and make a small donation.
Please send a few bucks to:

Vietnam Veterans of America

Chapter  890

attn: H-34 Charlie fund

P O Box 2014
ID 83864

Be sure to write "for H-34 Charlie" on the check.
All donations are tax deductible under our 501 3 C (or whatever that number is).
Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Should we gather more than the required amount, any balance will go to help veterans in need.

Thank you for your continued support.

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.