|Dak Pek 1|
|I was on my Type I Restricted quals for this field and a couple of others nearby.
When we arrived overhead of Dak Pek, we saw a Caribou on the ramp with engines running.
As the rules limited us to one aircraft on the ground at a time, we asked him when he planned to leave so we could land. He thought we were his ride home since he was calling Hilda to report a hard landing by his
student ... and he did not think the airplane was flyable.
Well, some rules are just made to be broken. So, we landed to get these guys home. On first look, the damage was pretty clear ... wrinkled skin under the wing fuselage juncture, leaking hydraulic fluid and what looked like wheel and tire damage.
The incident reached the level of convening an accident investigation board at Cam Ranh Bay. My IP that day, Captain Kenneth “Doc” Holliday and I testified since we arrived a short time after the hard landing ... which also turned out to be a short landing too. I think what happened was the loss of effective headwinds when getting in the lee side of the hills on the right side if the runway, plus low airspeed and a relatively higher sink rate than normal. Additionally, I think the student pilot pulled power off a bit early under these conditions. But, then again, there were reasons for specific airfield checkouts in the Type 1 Restricted category and this event was more proof of the policy.
As events progressed, our maintenance folks went to Dak Pek to fix the airplane. As I recall, the real capability to fix it consisted of a survey and approval for a one-time flight to home station where it could really be fixed under more favorable conditions. Since I was now qualified at Dak Pek ... or maybe the only qualified pilot available that day ... I was tapped to bring the broken ‘Bou back home.
Part of the planning for that sortie included a lengthy session with our maintainers on the plane’s status. Since a CRB maintenance team went to Dak Pek, the 781 was available at CRB. The result was to take more guys and equipment with us to finish the deferred wheel, tire and hydraulic work
The item that caught my attention the most was not in the 781 however. As we were leaving, the NCOIC said: “Captain, you better check for booby traps too.” We could never really resolve what that might involve before it was time for the ride up to Dakj Pek. Our flight crew and maintainers did spend a lot of extra time looking in places, behind panels that were not part of normal preflights and just generally poking into nooks and crannies that no one had seen for a long time. I think we created a unique pre-flight card that day but the motivation was there. What else could you do to take up the time our very able maintenance troops were spending on the wheels and tires?
The sequence of photos start with our ride from CRB departing ... with us waving. It does gets quiet out in the boonies with no engine noises. As you can see, the Montagnyard kids did a great job of QCing the job. The other thing you could do in your spare time was to take the “I am a warrior” picture of a key armed guard and the pilot of the uneventful flight home ... who also took the pictures of Dak Pek in the rear view mirror as we got airborne before dark.