Helicopter 66

Helicopter 66
Helicopter 66 pictured in 1969
Helicopter 66 pictured in 1969
Other name(s)"Old 66",[1] Helicopter 740
ManufacturerSikorsky Aircraft
SerialBuNo 152711[1]
Owners and operatorsU.S. Navy
In service1968–1975
Last flightJune 4, 1975
Total hours3,245.2
FateCrashed and sank in the Pacific Ocean

Helicopter 66 is a United States Navy Sikorsky Sea King helicopter used during the late 1960s for the water recovery of astronauts during the Apollo program. It has been called "one of the most famous, or at least most iconic, helicopters in history", was the subject of a 1969 song by Manuela and was made into a die-cast model by Dinky Toys. In addition to its work in support of NASA, Helicopter 66 also transported the Shah of Iran during his 1973 visit to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk.

Helicopter 66 was delivered to the U.S. Navy in 1967 and formed part of the inventory of U.S. Navy Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Four for the duration of its active life. Among its pilots during this period was Donald S. Jones, who would go on to command the United States Third Fleet. Later re-numbered Helicopter 740, the aircraft crashed in the Pacific Ocean in 1975 during a training exercise. At the time of its crash, it had logged more than 3,200 hours of service.


Helicopter 66 pictured during the Apollo 10 recovery
Helicopter 66 pictured during the Apollo 10 recovery in 1969

Helicopter 66 was a Sikorsky Sea King SH-3D.[2] The SH-3D model Sea Kings were designed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and were typically configured to carry a crew of four and up to three passengers.[3] Powered by two General Electric T58-GE-10 turboshaft engines producing up to 1,400 horsepower (1,000 kW) each, SH-3Ds had a maximum airspeed of 120 knots (220 km/h; 140 mph) and a mission endurance averaging 4.5 hours.[3][4] They had a maximum allowable weight of 20,500 pounds (9,300 kg) with the ability to carry an external payload of up to 6,000 pounds (2,700 kg).[3]

During ASW missions, the Sea King SH-3D was typically armed with MK-46/44 torpedoes.[3]

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