VNAF Photos 's Design

VNAF PHOTOS section - vnafmamn.com

      The following photos are three batches of old pictures that show VNAF personnel in service during the Vietnam war. More photos need to be sorted out and will be added when available. If you have the pictures regarding VNAF airmen and would like everyone to see, please contact us. We will be glad to post on the next batch.

VNAF Crew Design
VNAF PILOTS & GROUND CREW (Part 3)
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew

VNAF PILOTS & GROUND CREW (Part 2)
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew

VNAF PILOTS & GROUND CREW
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew
VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew VNAF Crew

Pilot Training for the South Vietnam Air Force

Once U.S. redeployment began in earnest, the training and buildup of the South Vietnam Air Force also took on a new importance. While the Army retained jurisdiction over helicopters within its sphere, in the South Vietnam government defense organization these critical machines were controlled by the Air Force. Thus, after 1969 the rapid buildup of the Air Force's rotary-wing arm necessitated close coordination between CONUS training schedules, U.S. Army aviation redeployments, equipment turnover procedures, and U.S. Air Force advisory teams. In many cases Vietnamese Air Force pilots and mechanics served long apprentice periods with Army aviation companies before their own squadrons were finally activated. Again the result was impressive. In 1968 the Air Force possessed about seventy-five outmoded rotary aircraft (H-34's) organized into five squadrons; by the end of 1972 it boasted some 500 new machines in eighteen squadrons, one of the largest; costliest, and most modern helicopter fleets in the world.

Both U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force CONUS installations were used extensively to train Vietnamese Air Force pilots. This practice made it necessary for all prospective pilots to receive extensive language training. English language training for all Vietnamese helicopter pilots were finally completed on schedule with the last group leaving for the United States in April 1971. CONUS helicopter pilot training was scheduled for completion in July 1972. At the time, a total of 1,642 would have been trained including 341 who would have received instrument qualification training. The total Vietnamese Air Force offshore pilot training requirement, including helicopter, fixed-wing, and high-performance aircraft, was 3,334. During 1971, 1,007 students departed for offshore training while the remainder were scheduled to depart for continental United States by May 1972 for eighteen months of training. Completion date for the major portion of the offshore pilot program was September 1973.

(Source: Vietnam Studies: The Devepoment and Training of The South Vietnamese Army, 1950-1972)

VNAF TRAINING ACCIDENT

      The following photos (taken by Bill Hirtle in late 1969) show an accident involving two VNAF pilots assigned to the 118th. According to Bill Hirtle, the two VNAF pilots were cranking up to go on a training mission--no crews on board--they would have been U.S. Both VNAF pilots used the standard VNAF request for hover, "This VNAF 12345, I go now!" They both picked up from adjoining revetments at the same time and the main rotor of one struck the tail boom of the other. Both aircraft beat themselves to death right there on the 118th flight line in very close proximity to the Maintenance Hanger. Both pilots were killed. The rotor blade of the second aircraft came right through the cockpit! It was a mess. No U.S. were killed in the incident.

accident accident accident accident accident
accident

US Thunderbirds Pilots Train VNAF Pilots


VNAF Pilot       Throughout most of the Vietnam War, American helicopter pilots and instructors were involved in training and transitioning the Vietnam Air Force (VNAF) helicopter pilots so they could join their own country's Air Force in the War effort. Early on, most of the VNAF pilots were trained in small numbers in the U.S. by adding one to six to the flight school classes at Ft. Wolters, TX and Ft. Rucker, AL. Then when they returned to their country they received transition training in the CH-34 flown exclusively by the U.S. Marine Corps because that was the helicopter flown by the VNAF helicopter Squadrons. There seems to be no evidence that they were trained in the CH-21's. Later, as the War effort escalated(1968-1973), much larger numbers of VNAF pilots were taught English and then sent to the U.S. for full and complete training from 0 hours through 200. By 1970 complete class sections at Ft. Wolters, TX were all Vietnamese.

The following texts are Personal Remembrance of Tom Payne:

"I was a Flight Commander for C-10 flight at Downing Heliport at Ft. Wolters in very early 1970(Jan-Feb). My flight, C-10 was selected to train the SECOND all Vietnamese(VNAF) flight class. C-12 had begun to train FIRST all Vietnamese flight class only a couple weeks earlier ."

"The second class had 35 Vietnamese students. They had received English language training and some classroom instruction on flying and in particular flying in the TH-55, manufactured by Hughes. This had taken place before they arrived for their flight training. Most of the students could understand and read English, barely! Many had a more difficult time of speaking English. No doubt the English training emphasized the written English more than the spoken. This "handicap" would play a big part in getting them soloed because their standard reply to an instructor when asked if they understood instructions was, 'Yes, Sir!' It never seemed to be 'No, Sir!' They didn't understand English nor could they speak it sufficiently to be able to verbalize their questions. All to them were highly motivated and probably 'scared as hell!' "

"The instructor pilots assigned to C-10 were almost all U.S. CW2's. A couple were not that experienced as IP's. All however, had all flown a tour in Vietnam. To deepen the IP experience of C-10, the C Division Commander, COL Thaxton, infused about 6-7 Southern Airways IP's in C-10. These men each had several years of experience instructing students and much more experience in Primary techniques and training.(first 50 hours)."

"The English language was the biggest obstacle for the VNAF students. Mechanically, they seemed to understand the systems and were able to manipulate the controls of the TH-55. But, understanding instructions from their IP was the problem. Many would become confused and panic stricken if something didn't go right. Most of them had difficulty with orientation while in the air or in the traffic pattern at the stage field. To help with this, we devised continues classes when not in the cockpit. For instance, when I was in the tower at the stage field, I would bring from 2-4 VNAF students to instruct. I would teach and quiz them about where each helicopter was, ie. final approach, base leg, downwind leg. In addition, they had to identify lane numbers, pad numbers, take-off pad, etc. This drill was also repeated and re-repeated in the stage field "house" on a chalk board by some of the IPs. It seemed, if we could keep them oriented to and from the stage field from Downing, and while in the flight pattern at the stage field, the less excited and less likely to panic they would be when they soloed! It worked!"

"Our techniques seemed to work because we soloed 32 of the 35 students. It was a wild ride, too, because the last 8-10 students were marginally capable of soloing. As flight commander, I had to ride with most of them and make THE decision. I would wait until EVERY other TH-55 had departed the stage field for Downing and then ride around the pattern with the student once or twice to help make the decision. I may have ridden with the student before when an IP would wanted someone else to check him out. The fire truck would remain as well as someone in the tower(usually his IP). If I thought he was able to solo after a couple times around the pattern, I would sit him down on the take-off pad, on lane 1 or 2, and get out. His IP would be in the tower and establish radio contact. I would then unplug my helmet and head for the tower. The IP would talk him to a hover and off he would go! It was sometimes very scary for us all."

"Those last students to solo were often approaching 25+ hours of instruction, I think. They had to solo by 25 hours or be washed out and return to Vietnam. They had a lot of pressure on them and their pride and "face" was on the line. Of the 35 students in that second all Vietnamese class, 32 soloed. Of the three who did not....two tried to commit suicide in their barracks. They just were not willing to go back to Vietnam marked as a 'failure'."

By 1970 the 118th became heavily involved in training the VNAF pilots in the UH-1H. The plans were already to turn all helicopters over to the VNAF Squadrons through the "Vietnamization Program." Most of the U.S. assault helicopter units were involved in this program and often had a number of VNAF pilots assigned to the unit. Bill Hirtle, a 118th CWO who received a direct commission to 1LT, spent 2 years in the 118th and other units within the 145th CAB. Upon his return from the U.S. for his "extension" he spend considerable time working with VNAF pilots.

(Source: US 118th Thunderbird)

Back to VNAF PHOTOS PAGE #1