Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 27°C

min temp: 17°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Gallery: Multiple bird strikes blamed for helicopter crash that left Lakenheath servicemen dead

10:52 09 July 2014

Recovery preperations after USAF helicopter crash at Cley.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Recovery preperations after USAF helicopter crash at Cley. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

Four US servicemen from RAF Lakenheath were killed when a flock of geese smashed through the windscreen of their military helicopter and caused it to crash into the north Norfolk coast, officials have said..

Accident investigators, police and service personnel at the crash site of the American military helicopter at Cley next the Sea where a second similar helicopter landed to help.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYAccident investigators, police and service personnel at the crash site of the American military helicopter at Cley next the Sea where a second similar helicopter landed to help. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

A US air force investigation into the fatal crash on January 7 found that at least three geese went through the helicopter’s windscreen, knocking the pilot and co-pilot unconscious.

The rescue aircraft was on a routine to a training exercise near the village of Cley-next-the-Sea when it crashed into salt marshes, killing four servicemen, Capt Christopher Stover, Capt Sean Ruane, Technical Sgt Dale Mathews and Staff Sgt Afton Ponce.

The helicopter, an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter used by US special forces in rescue missions, had flown from RAF Lakenheath to perform low-flying manoeuvres near a nature reserve popular with birdwatchers.

Releasing the details of the investigation into the report, the US air force said Brig Gen Jon Norman “found clear and convincing evidence that multiple bird strikes caused the mishap by rendering the pilot and co-pilot unconscious and disabling the trim and flight path stabilisation system”.

Afton PonceAfton Ponce

Investigators said the geese, weighing between six and 12lb (2.7-5.4kg), would have struck the aircraft with 53 times the force of a baseball moving at 100mph.

They also revealed that shards of windscreen and bird remains were found 720 feet away from the location of impact, showing the force of the collision.

The report said that the helicopter was flying 110ft (34 metres) above ground level at a speed of 110 knots (126mph or 202km/h) as it performed the nighttime rescue scenario.

Investigators said it was possible that a flock of geese took flight from Cley marshes in the after being startles by the noise of the low-flying aircraft.

Capt Sean Ruane, left, and Tech Sgt Dale Mathews, two of the American servicemen killed in the Cley helicopter crash.Capt Sean Ruane, left, and Tech Sgt Dale Mathews, two of the American servicemen killed in the Cley helicopter crash.

It was concluded that at least three geese penetrated the windscreen of the helicopter, rendering unconscious the pilot, co-pilot and the aerial gunner, who were all wearing night vision goggles.

With three of the four crew members unconscious, another goose struck the nose of the helicopter causing an outage in its trim and flight path stabilisation system.

The report said that three seconds after being struck by geese, the aircraft’s cyclic stick, which controls its pitch and roll, lost control and caused the helicopter to ditch left and slam into the ground.

All four crew members were killed and the helicopter was destroyed on impact, the US air force said, costing the US government an estimated $40.3m (£23.5m).

Richard Kelham, chairman of Cley Parish Council, said the findings confirmed residents’ long-held fears over low-flying helicopters over the marsh and he hopes the matter can be looked at once more.

He said: “These findings strengthen our hand in the argument against low flying over nature reserves.

“Our concerns are for both the welfare of the wildlife but also from a safety point of view.

“It is inherently dangerous to fly low over an area with a lot of birds and hopefully lessons can be learned from this tragedy.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other East Anglian Daily Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by East Anglian Daily Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique East Anglian Daily Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Essex Police are attempting to find the owners of photos on storage cards seized by officers at Stansted Airport.

As part of an investigation into theft at Stansted Airport, Essex Police are attempting to trace the owners of images found on digital storage cards.

Marcus Evans

Brazilian police investigating allegations of Olympic ticket-touting have released emails between a senior Irish official and Ipswich Town Football Club owner Marcus Evans.

Traffic on the A14 is being diverted using the entrance and exit slip roads. Image: Keith Mindham

The A14 at Bury St Edmunds has reopened after a woman who was spotted on the wrong side of the bridge at junction 44 was talked down by officers.

Andrew Bloomfield took this photo of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service fighting the fire in the old Fisons building in Paper Mill Lane, Bramford.

A fire at the old Fisons building in Paper Mill Lane, Bramford, has been extinguished.

Tower Ramparts, Ipswich, as staff poured from William Prettys works in the mid 1890s

The site of one of Ipswich’s major employers until the 1980s - Willaim Pretty’s - is now a car park, writes David Kindred.

The RNLI at Aldeburgh investigate an empty boat that turned up on Wednesday 24th August.

A yacht named after a lucky star had the good fortune of being rescued off the Suffolk coast today having drifted unmanned past Britain’s biggest container port.

Abellio Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles.

The average speed of trains between London and Ipswich will be cut to just over an hour in three years’ time – but the Ipswich in 60 ambition will depend on Network Rail carrying out improvement work.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24