I've been there, saw the circus, petted the elephant. Mason called it just right. Folks who complain that he exagerated have a slight point, but give me a break! Mason's story is true, a great read, and resonates with every Vietnam Vet that I know (at least up to the part where he tends to blame his legal difficulties on his experiences).
The sounds bullets make when they pass thru the fuselage is a pling like a screwdriver driven into sheetmetal (as long as its not too near you) , a sneaky sound that is just loud enough to hear, and just soft enough to scare the crap out of you. The definition of Concentration is how you stare at your gages and reach out mentally to feel your machine after you've been hit. The definition of wary Relief is that, 20 seconds after you hear the hits, that you are still flying, still alive and still scared crapless.
Nick being a former Cobra pilot and erstwhile Teetotaller....I surmise the elephants were pink when observed.
The sounds of bullets hitting the aircraft seemed to vary directly with the caliber and distance from my naughty bits. The smaller and further away they were....the less they impressed me. I can assure you when a .51 caliber machinegun round hits the main former beneath your luxurious Boeing-Vertol....one size fits all throne....it sounds like the world has just come to an ugly end! The AK rounds that merely punched 7.62 mm holes in the 0.064 inch thick aluminum armor plating back in the ramp area....well I guess someone might discover them on a post flight or something.
The real thrill was when the underslung load of 105 mm howitzer projectiles and fuses got hosed by a machine gun from about 300 feet and the fuses all let fly ......now that was a soul enrichening event! Anyone who says time does not stand still when you are confronted with your own mortality instantly......just doesn't understand. For a moment, we actually thought we had lost the main rotors through some catastrophic event that great two headed sausage maker was infamous for doing. After lighting my Kool and asking for the cruise checklist, getting my heart re-started and swallowing my stomach and other sorts of internal items.......we sorted the situation out and made the first official arrested landing of a Chinook at an artillery firebase.....we dragged up about 400 meters of concentina wire, trip flares, and claymore mines getting the old girl on the ground. The infantry guys who had to re-install that were not amused!
Chickenhawk is a really excellent book. Iīve read it plenty of times.
First time I heard about Robert Mason was back in military flight school - some IPīs used his book during lectures.
By the way, I`ve just finnished "AEROSCOUTS" by Charles Holley (OH-6 driver). Itīs a quite interesting book. I`m just wondering, why the US Army in Vietnam has replaced the agile OH-6 by the OH-58 - does somebody know?
Jetrangers were much cheaper.....and the US Army senior management could have given a crap less about the lack of performance of the OH58A.....as compared to the OH6A. Lots of good men died or were maimed as a result. Politics had a big role to play in that decision as well. A bit of research regarding the Bell Helicopters Textron Board during those years might make interesting reading.
When it first came out there was a bit of a thread about it so I tried to get it here in Oz but the local franchizes (Angus & Robertson, Dymocks etc) hadn't heard of it and didn't have it on their databases. So I let it go.
I was (still am) too wary of sending credit card details over the internet so I didn't buy it from overeseas. If you got it locally - who did you get it from?
I got it through a spinoff from Amazon.com in the US. They only had a couple of copies as it is not in print anymore, so I paid about $15AUSD for a second hand copy, well worth it though. I can send it to you if you like, just PM me your details.
I guess it's first in best dressed, I have it right now and am happy to get work to pay to send it to you. let me know your address and I will send it tomorrow. PM if you wish or email firstname.lastname@example.org