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Schroder
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PostMon Mar 22, 2021 9:25 am 
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If you needed to be airlifted from the mountains in the 70's and 80's there was a good chance that you'd see Fort Lewis or Whidbey Naval Air Station involved.

In early 1971, the Army created a MAST unit (Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic) at Gray Field at Fort Lewis together with the Mountain Rescue units in Washington. A two-man volunteer Mountain Rescue team would be on duty every weekend in a "ready-room" on the base and was able to be off the ground in a couple of minutes. All the pilots had just survived tours in Viet Nam and were highly seasoned, giving some of the wildest rides I ever experienced. The rescuers saw every imaginable scene from mountain injuries to car accidents and even delivering babies. I had my camera with me on our first training day in 1971:

MAST 1971
MAST 1971
MAST 1971
MAST 1971

Whidbey Island NAS had several CH-47 Chinook helicopters and were used a lot in Snohomish County, North Cascades and the Olympics. Here's one shot of "Firewood 1" rescuing rafters on the Skykomish River. On one of my more memorable rescue missions in 1972, I was on board this helicopter when they tried to lower me by cable to an injured climber near the top of the North Peak of Mt Index. The terrain was to steep to allow the rotors to clear so I had to be dropped off on a lower ledge just as the sun was setting. It later crashed near Whatcom Pass in the early 1980's with only one survivor.

Firewood 1 - Whidbey NAS
Firewood 1 - Whidbey NAS

Whidbey NAS still has a very active rescue unit utilizing Seahawk helicopters.
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Malachai Constant
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PostMon Mar 22, 2021 11:20 am 
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Was that the one that crashed at Perfect Pass? I remember the wreckage and it left us with a somber feeling. There was that crashed near Snoqualmie Pass in the early 70ís a friend was working for the State and was a first responder to the fire that started no survivors. RIP

China Lake was the go to place in the Sierras because we had helicopters that could hover at high altitudes.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Schroder
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PostMon Mar 22, 2021 12:06 pm 
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Yes, it was Perfect Pass. Memory slipping there. It happened on 9/11/80 and there were 2 survivors out of 7 on board.
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catsp
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PostMon Mar 22, 2021 1:13 pm 
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Very neat pics (as always). Curious, though, is this what happened if you didn't pay for first class?

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runup
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PostMon Mar 22, 2021 9:18 pm 
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Schroder wrote:


All the pilots had just survived tours in Viet Nam and were highly seasoned, giving some of the wildest rides I ever experienced.   agree.gif   up.gif
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Whidbey NAS still has a very active rescue unit utilizing Seahawk helicopters. up.gif
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car68
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PostTue Mar 23, 2021 4:37 pm 
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CH-46, Sea Knight.  Chinook's little brother.

In my youth I rode a MAST helicopter at Mt Rainier to help search for Julie Fillo.

The helicopter bug bit hard.

I joined the Army thinking they would let me fly those.  They didn't, yes i was naive.

They did issue me a set of mechanics tools and let me drill holes in them though.

Still doing air rescues.

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I'm the guy 911 calls.
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