Lieutenant Jack Shaw, (RCASC) CH-47 Helicopter Trials Accident, 17 March 1965.
Jack was posted to the US Army Aviation Test Board (USAATB) to the best of my memory in either late August or early September 1964. He was to replace me upon my posting back to Canada in the summer of 1965. Most of the 1964 fall was devoted to getting Jack fully qualified on the UH-1 A,B & D models, the CH-47 Chinook, and current on other aircraft such as the H-23 and L-19.
I believe that Jack’s Chinook was a standard A model. The early Test Board CH-47’s were JCH or YCH -47s. The J/Y preceding the normal CH indicates a non standard airframe usually used in development or certification test flights. All early Chinooks were not configured the same because of test/production requirements. For example: one of the Test Board’s CH-47 had an emergency audio warning system (it was the same one used on the B-58 Hustler but adapted for the Chinook) installed for test and evaluation. One aspect of the evaluation was that the voice was female and data was being collected to determine if pilots reacted faster to hearing a woman’s voice. (No female military pilots in those days). A standard model is designated when a series of aircraft are built or modified to the same configuration. The standard A was not approved until sometime in either late 1964 or the beginning of 1965. I remember well the drive to get the standard A designation as the 11th Air Assault Test Division, Fort Benning, Georgia was to be renamed the 1st Cavalry Air Mobile Division and sent to Vietnam in mid 1965. It was imperative that the A designation be given before deployment. I believe that the Division’s Chinook unit was the 228th Aviation Bn. This unit was a major source of time expired dynamic parts that were used in the project to increase the Time Between Overhaul (TBO) on fleet helicopter components. Jack’s flight was a normal 3hr profile to put additional flying time on components used in the project.
As best as I recall, the crash occurred sometime in the late afternoon of 17 Mar 1965. I had taken a week’s leave to study for the Lt-Capt promotion exams that were scheduled for the latter part of March. I was at home studying when I got a phone call from Maj (RCASC) Bob Jones, the Canadian Army Liaison Officer Fort Rucker, telling me of the accident and that all aircrew died in the crash. He also told me that the gruesome task to positively identify Jack’s body fell to him. The other pilot was Mr. Richard (Dick) Daniels a civilian CS-13 or 14. Dick and I flew together on a number of test missions. I do not recall the name of the crew chief.
The cause of the crash was traced to the loss of a forward rotor blade in flight. A blade broke off in the area where the blade is attached to the rotor head. When being assembled the rotor blade root, which is threaded on the outside, is screwed into the split cuff, which is threaded on the inside. The lead/lag and flapping hinge assembly is where the cuff is mated to the rotor head. The blade root is screwed into the cuff and then the blade incident angle is set. When the incident angle is verified, a hole is drilled through the one side of the cuff, through the blade root and through the other side of the cuff, then everything is disassembled and all drill holes are supposedly deburred. The blade and cuff are reassembled; the locking pin is inserted and safety wired locking the incident angle, then the split cuff is clamped tight via a bolt through the ears on each side of the cuff split.
Somehow during production the drill out of the locking pinhole it was not properly deburred. ??? A burr (as best as I can recall) about 1/8 in long was found. Anyway, the improper/no deburring created a stress riser. This stress riser changed the stress force distribution pattern in the blade root and cuff causing abnormal concentration of forces about the incident locking pin. Eventually this caused the blade root/cuff to fail.
Jack was a good officer, and a fine pilot, who was liked and respected by all at the Test Board. He also caught the eye of many single young women about Fort Rucker and Panama City. Mary still has a fond memory of the day Jack came to our PMQ to show her his new car, a Ford Edsel and taking her and our daughter Carol for a ride. Periodically a memory of Jack will pop into Mary’s or my mind. Had I not been preparing for the exams I could just as well have been scheduled for that flight.