A good pilot/skydiver friend of mine, who I’ll call Geno because that’s his name, OK nickname but let’s not split hairs, had a scary story about one night one the flight deck of a destroyer many years ago. That particular dark and stormy night somewhere in the south Pacific Geno had flight deck duty when the call came in that a helicopter was coming in to land. Geno ran up to the landing platform and was knew right away that that recovery was going to be hairy. Geno’s job that night was to dash under the helicopter as soon as it touched down and attach a tie down chain to one of the landing gear mounts, or something. The deck was pitching and rolling violently and the pilot was having a difficult time but eventually managed to slam the helicopter onto the deck. As soon as the wheels made contact Geno dove under the belly of the helicopter and successfully secured his chain. As he was rolling out from under the helicopter the deck rolled hard and the helicopter came off the deck because the sailor on the the other side hadn’t yet secured his tie down chain. Now I’m sure you you can imagine how well a helicopter flies with one of it’s wheels tied to a pitching flight deck but I’m pretty sure you can’t imagine how scary it would be to be lying on your back on that landing platform watching the show and wondering just what part of the helicopter is going to hit you when it crashes. As the pilot tried desperately to control his aircraft Geno rolled back under the wildly swinging helicopter and against SOP hit the quick release on the chain setting it free. As the helicopter shot into the air it’s tail wheel took out part of some sort of railing off to one side of the landing platform and flew away with it dangling from it’s tail. Geno told me that when the helicopter came back for another attempt at landing the mood on he landing platform was just a little bit tense.
Here is the real story about the “Liberty Belle” incident in Aurora IL. A very compelling “must read” account from the people who were there, instead of the media hype that saturated this story from the beginning.
This is a letter posted by Ray Fowler, The Liberty Foundation, Chief Pilot and after reading it, you will have a much better idea of what took place.
First, let me start off by sincerely thanking everyone for the outpouring of support that we are receiving. I am sorry that I have not yet had the opportunity to return the many phone calls, text or e-mails that I am receiving offering to help. Again, thank you for all of the kind words that we are receiving and for incredible offers to help emotionally, financially and/or with the recovery process. I hope this statement will help fill in a few details that everyone is wondering about that led to the loss of our “Liberty Belle”.
In the spring of 1944, Bill Overstreet of the famous 357th FG was hot on the tail of a German ME109G. The pilot of the 109 flew right over Paris where German anti-aircraft artillery was heavy, probably in hopes they would solve his problem by eliminating Bill and his P51C named the “Berlin Express”. Bill persisted through intense flak closing the gap with the enemy fighter. Already hit in the engine, as a last resort the ME109 pilot aimed his aircraft toward the imposing Eiffel Tower and in a breathtaking maneuver flew right under it. Even this was not enough to shake Bill as he followed right behind scoring several more hits in the process. The German ME109 crashed moments later and Bill escaped the heavy flak around Paris by flying low and full throttle over the river.