Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Air Force Helicopter Crashed After Flying Into Power Lines In Iraq
The crash of an Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter in March was caused by the aircraft flying into steel power lines strung between two high towers, an investigation into the fatal mishap determined.
Seven airmen were killed when the helicopter went down in western Iraq, near the Syrian border. The Pave Hawk ran into the cables while flying at 125 knots at between 250 and 270 feet off the ground, according to the aircraft accident investigation board report, which the Air Force released on Monday.
Once the cable became tangled around the main rotor, the helicopter “suffered catastrophic structural failures and was completely uncontrollable prior to impact with the ground,” the investigation found.
On the night of the crash, the HH-60 and another helicopter were flying to an area close to an operation so they could be ready in case needed for rescue missions, according to the investigation report.
The investigation identified several errors leading up to the crash. The helicopter accidentally flew past its landing zone when it made a wrong turn, yet the aircraft’s crew was sure it was heading in the right direction even though their navigation equipment indicated that they had passed their destination.
Part of the confusion stems from the navigation route that the crew planned, according to the investigation. The route contained seven “navigational waypoints” to help orient the crew, but only the first three led to the landing zone.
The remaining four were not part of the mission that night. They were intended to be used only if two helicopters needed to be on alert for rescue missions and were meant to be flown at higher altitudes.
On the way to the landing zone, the helicopter’s pilot was repeatedly interrupted by his wingman, his crew, and a Joint Terminal Attack Controller at the landing zone, the investigation found. These “non-navigation related tasks” ate up so much time for the crew of both helicopters that it “reduced their time available to identify their navigation error.”
After talking to the JTAC, both helicopters turned toward a waypoint that was not part of that night’s mission, flying past the landing zone in the process, the investigation found. When the helicopter began descending, it ended up between four towers with power lines.
Because it was so dark that night, none of the crew could see their power lines with their night vision goggles, according to the investigation. None of the crew called out seeing the power lines before the helicopter flew into them.
Both the pilot and co-pilot reacted “swiftly and calmly” when the main rotor became ensnared, but the aircraft soon began to break up. “Based on the estimated acceleration forces, the crash was not survivable,” the investigation says.
The bright light from the crash’s explosion helped the crew of the other helicopter see the power cables in time to avoid them, according to the investigation.
“This was the first and only time leading up to the mishap any members of the MF [mishap formation] were able to see the cables strung between the different set of towers,” the investigation found.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.
A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.
R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.
Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.
The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.
These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.