Those darn, sneaky aliens. They got the drop on my dropship, then immediately launched a terror mission in Australia while I couldn't respond. There goes the continent. Sure, I could have kept on playing in the post-nuclear world. But they've been pissing me off and that was the last straw. So out comes the secret super-weapon my cyber black-ops team has been working on. ET, I've got a surprise for you.
If you're stuck in snag like this, don't have an older savegame handy, and really, really need your dropship back, here's how you can instantly repair it by editing your savegame. Use at your own risk - my engineers keep telling me they can't be held responsible for unwanted side-effects.
My dropship was called "Charlie - 1" and it was stationed in my main base called "Rhodes". Scanning my file I found this:
Aha! That chinook looks familiar. After the base name (Rhodes) there are seven null bytes (the 00's), then the four magic numbers circled in red. Comparing a few saves, I noticed these changed over time as my craft healed. I'm guessing they're values for fuel, damage, etc, and probably a bit field for aircraft status. Once my craft was recovered and fully repaired, they stabilized at "00 00 48 43". So I popped those values into an earlier savegame and voilà, the dropship is ready to respond!
Take that, mutant scum!
I'm posting this here as I noticed there isn't much info out there on the savegame format and I figure this might help someone else in the future. I don't condone cheating - you'll have more fun if you don't! But if you need a little edge, here you go.
And just in case your edit unwittingly triggers alien armaggeddon - make sure to keep a pristine backup from before you went hacking around in your file.