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.

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    $\begingroup$ 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
    Commented May 12, 2022 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ +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. $\endgroup$ Commented May 12, 2022 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ You are both correct, I misremembered the specifics of the story. $\endgroup$
    – SDH
    Commented May 13, 2022 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ Commented May 13, 2022 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.


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