The helicopter pad, more commonly referred to as the chopper pad, was a defining feature of a MASH camp during the Korean War as this was the first time helicopter medevac was conducted as a standard procedure. The chopper pad was where helicopters bearing the seriously wounded would land to be met by the MASH personnel with their ambulances and litter jeeps, ready to transport them to the hospital.
Location of the 4077th Chopper PadsEdit
The 4077th MASH had two chopper pads. The Upper Chopper Pad is the larger one with space for at least two choppers to land. It is located on high ground behind the mess tent. The Lower Chopper Pad is at the same level as the MASH buildings and tents, at the edge of the camp beyond the Mess Tent and the Supply Tent.
The Upper Chopper PadEdit
The Upper Chopper Pad is the one more frequently seen in M*A*S*H episodes. It is the focus of the opening sequence to each episode. A group of five running nurses and then a larger group of MASH personnel running up a flight of steps are both headed towards the Upper Chopper Pad to meet two arriving choppers. The arriving wounded are then loaded onto litter jeeps which are then seen driving down the slope along the road to the hospital. Memorable scenes on the Upper Chopper Pad include:
- Season 3 "Rainbow Bridge" where Captain Calvin Spalding sings "North Korean Blues" at the Upper Chopper Pad while the camera pans slowly over the camp buildings below.
- Season 3 "Abyssinia, Henry" where the MASH personnel bid farewell to Henry who subsequently dies when his plane is shot down.
- Season 4 "Smilin' Jack" where Hawkeye and B.J. meet and confiscate the flight credentials from Lieutenant Smilin' Jack Mitchell who has made one last illegal medevac flight.
- Season 5 "Margaret's Marriage" where the MASH personnel send Margaret off on her honeymoon.
- Season 7 "Point of View" where there is a spectacular aerial view of the 4077th MASH as Private Rich's chopper sweeps over the camp and touches down on the Upper Chopper Pad,
- Season 8 "Life Time" where the MASH crew are playing poker at the Upper Chopper Pad while waiting for the arrival of casualties. When the chopper arrives, Hawkeye discovers that one of the wounded soldiers has a lacerated aorta. He is forced to begin surgical procedures there and then by compressing the aorta and then has twenty minutes to complete an aorta transplant otherwise the soldier will be paralysed.
The Lower Chopper PadEdit
The Lower Chopper Pad is far less frequently seen. As it is located at the same level as the rest of the MASH camp, a landing chopper will throw up a huge cloud of dust over the tents and other structures. This could explain why the lower pad is not often used unless the upper pads are occupied.