Many years ago (35+ years), my father told me a story regarding a VIP that was on a small plane that had landing gear failure. It was decided that instead of attempting a landing, a helicopter would be used to attempt an air to air rescue. The rescue failed with both aircraft crashing. Does this sound familiar to anyone? I would like to know the story behind it if I can find it. I believe the crash would have occurred in the United States in the 60s or 70s.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ On its face, that sounds ridiculous. Airplanes with gear-failures rather commonly do belly landings. Its not risk free, but its far better to be on the ground, sliding down the runway, than trying to switch aircraft in midair. $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    May 12 at 19:12
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ +1. Air to air "rescue" using a helicopter?! I have never even heard of the military trying such a thing, which would be fraught with peril even if practiced regularly. To try something like this with untrained, unbriefed civilian pilots just to avoid a belly landing seems ludicrous. $\endgroup$ May 12 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ You are both correct, I misremembered the specifics of the story. $\endgroup$
    – SDH
    May 13 at 1:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Unbriefed dis-similar formation flying (by possibly untrained pilots) is almost as bad. I wouldn’t let a helicopter get anywhere near me personally. A very preventable tragedy. $\endgroup$ May 13 at 1:30

1 Answer 1


I was able to get the details after speaking with my father:

This was the Merion air disaster where a helicopter attempted to ascertain the cause of a landing-gear malfunction and collided with the airplane. It was not a rescue attempt as I originally thought.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.