Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 9°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

The crash happened near the A11 in Elveden

The air ambulance has been called alongside other emergency services to a serious crash on the B1106 in Elveden, near Center Parcs.

Posters appealing for information into the disappearance of missing RAF Honington serviceman Corrie McKeague

An “overwhelming” response to a call for help finding Corrie McKeague has seen nearly £30,000 raised to pay for a private investigator to look into the disappearance of the missing RAF serviceman.

Archie Joe Darby, who was killed in a dog attack in Colchester, and older brother Daniel-Jay Darby who was seriousy injured

A mother bravely fought off a Staffordshire bull terrier-type dog which savagely attacked her two young sons but could only save the eldest boy, an inquest has heard.

Paul Lee says the injury is more likely to be caused by a common spider like this

Suffolk’s arachnid recorder said he would be “very surprised” if claims of a deadly spider infestation in the county were accurate.

Richard Waterhouse. Photo: Essex Police

A drug addict who “lost control” and killed another man he had been taking drugs with in Wivenhoe has been jailed for eight years today.

Shoppers fill the Cornhill area of Ipswich town centre preparing for Christmas

If you are still struggling for Christmas gift ideas for your children, nieces and nephews, this could help you out. Here we list the must-have toys that will be under Christmas trees in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Woodbridge this year.

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