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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 201237
Last updated: 2 December 2021
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Type:Vertol H-21C Shawnee
Owner/operator:United States Army Aviation
Registration: 56-8639
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 15
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Luray, VA -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Fredericksburg-Shannon Airport, VA
Destination airport:Big Meadows, Virginia
The aircraft involved in this accident was leading a flight of three aircraft ferrying combat-equipped troops from Shannon Airport in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to Big Meadows, Virginia. The intended landing site was situated at the top of a ridge (elevation 3800 ft. msl ) approximately six miles from Luray, Virginia, near the Sky Line Drive.
The approach to the intended landing site was up a steep, wooded ravine terminating at the ridge line. Approximately four miles from the intended landing site (at approximately 3400 ft. msl) the aircraft began to experience difficulty in maintaining air speed and altitude. To counteract the loss of air speed and altitude, the pilot continued to add power and pitch to maintain his climb up the ravine, until the throttle reached the stops. In spite of the application of maximum power, air speed and altitude continued to decrease.
With the other two aircraft in echelon on his left, the pilot decided to execute a right turn back down the ravine in an attempt to effect a recovery from the loss of speed and altitude condition.
As he initiated the turn, however, he found there was insufficient room in the ravine to complete the maneuver and committed the aircraft to a forced landing; leveling the helicopter and executing a full flare (nose high) to dissipate the remaining air speed and applying collective pitch to decrease the rate of descent. During this maneuver, the rear rotor contacted the trees and disintegrated as the aircraft settled into the trees.
During the crash sequence, the aircraft rolled approximately 90 degrees to the left, scraping down the sides of trees approximately 40 feet in height. The aircraft impacted on its left side. Initial ground contact occurred on the left side of the pilot's compartment, forward of the copilot's seat, with the aircraft in a 3-5 nose-down attitude in relation to the ground. After initial impact, the rear section of the aircraft settled with the tail cone wedged between several trees.


The Evening Independent 2 December 1959, p1/3 December 1959, p1
Youngstown Vindicator 2 December 1959, p1 ff

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: 
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

13-Nov-2017 14:47 TB Added
13-Nov-2017 14:55 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Total fatalities, Location, Source, Narrative]
07-Dec-2017 19:15 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Total occupants, Source, Narrative]
09-Sep-2018 08:11 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative, Accident report, ]

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