Kyron V. (KV) Hall
Born on a farm near South Haven, Kansas in February 1934. After High School and one semester of College I went to work as a Draftsman in the Special Tools Department of Boeing Aircraft Company in Wichita. Kansas. Boeing was building the B-47’s at that time.
In March 1954, I applied for Aviation Cadet training, which didn’t require a college degree, and in May I was on my way to Lackland AB, Texas. After three months of Pre-flight training consisting of military training and basic aerodynamics, etc we dispersed to various bases for flight training. I went to Malden AB, Missouri to begin flying in PA-18 Supercubs and T-6G ‘Texan’ airplanes. From there to multi-engines at Vance AFB, Oklahoma with WWII B-25’s. This was only 90 miles from home so needless to say the folks got terrorized a few times from their crazy kid. Also got married between bases.
On August 31, 1955, I received my Pilot wings and my bright shiny 2nd Lt. bars. At this point we had choices of assignments but B-47’s and C-119’s flying deathtraps didn’t sound inviting. I chose one of the 4 slots for helicopter school. My classmates, Armand Fiola, Allen McLeod and Earl May also went to helicopters at Edward Gary AFB, San Marcos, Texas. We flew 35 hours in the Bell H-13 then 35 in the Sikorsky H-19. There were two slots for Helicopter Instructor Pilots there at the School.
That sounded like the best option at that time (Dec 55) and Tom Garcia and I filled the positions.
San Marcos was the initial training base for both the Army helicopter and fixed wing and the USAF helicopter training. I was assigned to the Army section and started in a flight with “Wild” Bill Lyell, “Mac” MacKenzie, and couple of others I can’t recall and each of us got 2 or 3 Army helicopter pilot students. It was the blind leading the blind for a while until my experience and confidence increased.
In 1956 the Army decided to train its own so the USAF Helicopter School moved to Randolph AFB, San Antonio, Texas. I got stuck with the supply account which took a few months to get take care of so I moved down to the Army L-19 maintenance section flying test hops and aircraft retrieval.
I then transferred to Randolph and instructed in the H-13 again and later the H-19 and then H-21’s. The School moved again in 1958, this time to Stead AFB, Reno, Nevada. Back to the H-19 for a few months before getting orders to the 22nd Helicopter Squadron at Goose Bay, Labrador. After a miserable “single” year there with 30 pilots flying only 2 or 3 H-21’s a day, it was back to Stead. H-19s and then H-21’s again and after a year or so I went to the Instructor Training Section flying both. The IT section had to “retrain” returning experienced pilots in the way of “the School”. Sometimes it was hard to ‘re-educate’ some of them to school standardized procedures.
In 1962 a group of H-21 people were sent TDY from Stead to Christmas Island, Gilbert Islands in the South Pacific (no I didn’t see Mitzi Gaynor) for “Operation Dominic” atomic tests. We got to sit and watch the “devices” go off then fly out to sea to recover “hot” nose cones of rockets fired through the clouds. I wonder why I have skin cancer problems today??
I was part of the ‘Advanced Party’ to move the School to Sheppard AFB, Texas in 1965. I was OIC of Instructor Training and flew the H-19 and later checked out in the CH-3C.
In early1967 I was to be the Project Officer for the School getting the “Huey” but got my orders for SEA. I was assigned to the 20th Helicopter Squadron and stationed at Udorn RTAFB, Thailand. I went through ‘Snake School” (survival) in the Philippines on my way over. It was nice to see all the familiar faces of former IP’s and friends in this strange place (Udorn). Since I had lots of chopper time and was current in the CH-3C, on my first flight I was checked out as Stan/Eval pilot, FCF pilot, and Aircraft Commander qualified. Everything except Mission Qualified and that would come on my first mission. Hell, I didn’t even know what country I was inů I was Chief of Stan/Eval and along with other “old heads” had the honor of qualifying all the new pilots. Many of them now were “conversion” pilots from B-52 and other fixed wing aircraft and right out of chopper school. I flew as much as possible and accumulated 442 hours of combat time and 105 out-of-country (Laos and North VietNam) missions. I was awarded the Silver Star, DFC w/1OLC, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal w/5OLC, AF Commendation Medal, AF Outstanding Unit Award and others.
After my tour in SEA, I was at last given my ‘dream’ assignment, Alaska. I was assigned to the 21st Ops Sqdn at Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska flying the “old” H-21’s. Yeh, old is right. I had three engine failures in the good old bird in one year with no losses. In 1970 the 5040th Helicopter Squadron was re-established and we flew 13 brand new HH-3E’s from the Connecticut factory to Elemendorf to replace the H-21’s. I was Wing Chief of Helicopter Stan/Eval for a couple of years.
I got to do lots of hunting and fishing. Dall Sheep rams (2OLC), Kodiak Brown Bear, along with black bear (3OLC), Mountain Goat, caribou, moose, wolf, wolverine and other assorted varmints. Also 4 types of Salmon, and Arctic Char, steelhead and trout.
On July 25, 1971, I was HH-3E Aircraft Commander on the longest over-water rescue by a land based helicopter. We flew over 450 miles out to sea from Kodiak Island to pick up a Korean merchant seaman with acute appendicitis and fly him to Kodiak Naval Hospital for successful surgery.
Assigned to 341st Missile Support Group, Malmstrom AFB, Great Falls, Montana in July 1972 to fly the UH-1F.
Retired from the USAF on June 1, 1974 (20 years and 14 days) as a Command Pilot and the rank of Major. During my USAF career I logged over 7800 hours of Helicopter pilot time.
After AF retirement, I worked for the Post Office for a couple of years and also flew a Bell 47 for the city Mosquito Abatement Program. I quit the Post office and flew a Bell 47 on a Fire Fighting contract for one summer. To stay with that company would require a move that I didn’t want to make. I did find a job with a local operator flying Cessna AgWagon doing crop spraying. A year or so later he bought a Bell 47 and I gave him flight instruction and piloted the helicopter on spraying and long line airlifting. He later had the engine converted to the Soloy jet Turbine which made it a great lift aircraft. After a few years he upgraded to a Hughes 500D which I flew for a couple of years.
After about 8 years, the jobs began getting fewer and the boss flying the helicopter more so in 1985 I got my Real Estate license to try for while. Didn’t like working 24/7 for low pay so in 1987 lucked out with a job flying a Bell 206 L1C Long Ranger for EMS at the two local hospitals. I worked for Omniflight Helicopters on the EMS job until the Lead pilot made the schedule impossible to live with. Besides, the nights were getting darker and the clouds lower, been there, done that and it aint fun no more.
So when I turned 65 in 1999 I decided that I’d had enough of that shit so I retired again. In 44 years of flying I had accumulated over 13,000 hours with 10,000 in helicopters.
My first wife divorced me in 1977 and I married Kathy Mann in 1979. In 1996, we built a nice Log home just south of town on 60 acres for our horses and dogs to run. Our Lhaso Apso dog, “Patches” and two housecats keep us company.
Over the years, I had part interest in several airplanes, Cessna 150, and 172 and in 1985 bought a Maule M-4 210C ‘taildragger’ to fly into mountain airstrips. What a hotrod! Last year I sold out and it was like cutting off my arm. But I didn’t use enough to make it worthwhile and the worry of storms and such. Besides my wife gets motion sickness and after 50 years it’s not fun just boring holes by yourself.
I have three grown children, oldest son (Emissions Control shop), in Manteca, California; youngest son in Big Sky, Montana, (contractor and ski bum); and a daughter (house Mom with Physical Therapy degree) in Philadelphia area. Four granddaughters.
We had cabin near Seeley Lake, Montana which is in the Rocky Mountains about 150 miles west of here. In 2001 I looked for a place higher up on the mountain with a better view and we sold the old and built a new Log “cabin” with all the modern amenities (this one has indoor plumbing, scratch one for the wife) so it is our second home. It is built among the pine trees with a view right down the Swan Mountain range as far as you can see. It’s almost like flying over them again. We keep busy riding ATV’s in the summer and lots of snowmobiling in the winter as long as the Forest Service and their “greenie” friends don’t keep shutting us out of OUR PUBLIC lands.
The past couple of years I have been busy as USAF Helicopter Pilot Assn. Historian and putting stuff on our website. If anyone gets to the “Big Sky” country, be sure to look us up.
Kyron Hall, 46 Eden Acres Lane, Great Falls, MT 59405