The Adventures of a Helicopter Pilot
Flying the H-34 Helicopter in Vietnam for the United States Marine Corps
By Bill Collier
Nonfiction, 234 pages, 9" x 6"
This is a spellbinding, firsthand account of what it was like to pilot a Marine Corps H-34 helicopter in combat during “The Helicopter War” in Vietnam. As a brand-new United States Naval Aviator with a mere 187.5 hours of helicopter flight experience, Second Lieutenant Bill Collier had many exciting adventures. Many were just a bit too exciting, some were horrific and a few were terrifying! Some were humorous. This is the true story of his experiences during his 13 months in the war. Bill watched friends die violently and stood many times eye-to-eye and toe-to-toe with Death himself. Each time, Death flinched.
After surviving the Vietnam War, Captain Bill Collier continued to have many adventures flying helicopters commercially all around the world. He flew almost every size and shape helicopter produced in the U.S. from the smallest “whirlybird” to the largest CH-53 “Jolly Green.” His last position was flying the UH-1 “Super Huey” for the Orange County Fire Department in Southern California. He also flew the French-built Alouette III.
In 2008, Captain Bill retired to the small, quiet, peaceful town of Sandpoint, in the Idaho panhandle. He keeps himself busy writing about his 32 years of helicopter flying. Watch for two more “Adventures of a Helicopter Pilot” books, “Flying for the CIA, Air America” and the collection of world-roving civilian flying stories.
He is a life member of several veterans organizations. Sandpoint Chapter 890 of the Vietnam Veterans of America recently rescued a derelict H-34 from the scrapyard. He and his veteran friends have refurbished it enough to make it towable for Fourth of July parades and other veterans’ activities. He blogs about it at: http://dawgdriverforever.blogspot.com/.
Praise for The Adventures of a Helicopter Pilot
“This is the journal of an honest, down-to-earth, self-deprecating, capable, and above all, courageous American in some of the most difficult circumstances in this nation’s history. The pages fly by, and as they do, I see more clearly the superb character of a hero with a sense of humor. We need more like him and they are getting more and more rare.”
–Ben Stein, Actor/Author
“Bill Collier knows what it means to go into harm’s way, and he never hesitated when there was a hazardous mission to be accomplished. Just ask the guys he rescued and the Marines he served with.”
–Major General Larry Taylor, USMCR
“Heroism, friendly fire, R&R, razor’s edge flying, this book has it all. Bill Collier lets us accompany him on his trip to Vietnam as a young Marine Corps helicopter pilot. Nothing is sacred here, save perhaps Bill’s love for his country and loyalty to his fellow Marines. He is frank about the merits and liabilities of his equipment, his leaders, and his own skills. If you want an unvarnished, understated, but nevertheless heroic tale of Marine Corps helicopter operations in Vietnam, this is a must read.”
–John Phillips, NASA Astronaut and Naval Aviator
“These events are factual; some funny, some ironic, some tragic. There was no handbook to operate a helicopter in close combat. Lessons learned were, often as not, passed word-of-mouth from one pilot to another at the o’club bar. I served with Captain Collier for 10 months in both his squadrons.”
–Lieutenant Colonel James B. Barr, USMCR
“In Adventures of a Helicopter Pilot, Captain Collier provides a gripping account of his flying experiences in Vietnam. The reader has the opportunity to fly with Bill on harrowing missions that will leave his hands sweaty and senses on full alert! Collier provides a firsthand look at helicopter rescue missions that saved countless lives. So intense are Bill’s accounts of his experiences and so keen his reminiscences, one gains an appreciation of the debilitation caused by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. May God bless our U.S. Marines! Semper Fi!”
–Lieutenant Colonel Rich Faletto, USAFR, Author Four-Eleven: Planes, Pulaskis and Forest Fires
“A realistic and down-to-earth personal view of our country’s involvement in a none-too-popular war. My hat’s off to Bill Collier for inviting us into a conflict with both humor and pathos. A must read for every student of history from a soldier’s point of view.”
–Ted Parvin, Retired Motion Picture Producer
“Thoughtful, funny, and full of death-defying escapades, Adventures of a Helicopter Pilot is a treasure trove of stories. Captain Bill’s writing captures the feeling of sitting around a campfire with cold beer and old friends. The perspective and humility he brings to the narrative are those of a once-brazen young man who has lived to tell the tales. A great read.”
–April Dávila, soon-to-be-world-famous novelist and mother of two of the author’s most adorable grandchildren
“Bill Collier gives a vivid and honest account of his time as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and of a time and a war that many of us remember all too well.”
–Erik Daarstad, Academy Award-winning Cinematographer and Documentary Filmmaker