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    When the Plan Changes 0 Military Ops & Training
    USACRC Editor

    When the Plan Changes

    There were a lot of risk factors that could have spelled disaster for this convoy, including fatigue, time of day, vehicle speed, convoy spacing, environmental hazards and lack of situational awareness. Thanks to good planning and risk analysis,...
    Off the Trail 0 Military Ops & Training
    USACRC Editor

    Off the Trail

    During one deployment, I learned a valuable lesson that I shared with every unit I was assigned to afterward: While technological advancements can help make our jobs as Soldiers a little easier, we must fully understand the capabilities and...
    The Impact of Our Choices 0 PMV-2
    USACRC Editor

    The Impact of Our Choices

    While working as an assistant trainmaster for the Union Pacific Railroad, my job as a manager required me to be on call should any problems arise in my area, which ran from Kansas City, Missouri, to McAlester, Oklahoma. On a warm mid-summer...
    Traveling Tired 0 Military Ops & Training
    USACRC Editor

    Traveling Tired

    Human performance while sleep deprived is a lot like being under the influence of alcohol. Driving after being awake for 18 hours is equal to a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent — legally drunk in the U.S. — and leaves you at...

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    Comfort Breeds Complacency

    Comfort Breeds Complacency

    Comfort Breeds Complacency


    Company C, 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation Regiment
    Washington Army National Guard
    Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

    My unit had been fighting fires with as many as five other crews at once for a little over a month when the following incident happened. During this time, many of us had logged between 50 and 70 hours on the fires, which is an extremely intense environment for all crewmembers. The more we flew, the more familiar we became with our crews and the mission in general. We knew what we had to do and began to value speedy response times more and more as the operations continued. As our comfort grew, so did our complacency.

    The typical routine was to preflight the aircraft and then head to the morning interagency briefing for the latest information and learn the planned operations for the day. After the briefing, we’d fire up the aircraft to complete the preflight items and engine power assurance checks. We would also conduct the cargo hook check and a functional check of the water buckets.

    One day, a request for a bucket mission came in during the morning briefing, which was unusual since the fire typically gains momentum as the ambient temperature rises around noon. We were quick to get to our aircraft and launch. Because we were in a hurry, we failed to conduct the cargo hook check. We also forgot to arm the hook for use below 300 feet above ground level (AGL) as specified in the aircrew training manual.

    Due to extremely low visibility during the mission, we chose to conduct a recon of the drop site before getting our first load of water. We wanted to be as light as possible in case the terrain wasn’t what we expected. While flying up the mountain, we realized we should have rearmed the hook passing below 300 feet AGL and I did so as the pilot not on the controls. When I did, the hook opened and the bucket fell among some burned-out trees. We landed on a cool patch of ground in the black and the crew chiefs hiked over to assess the condition of the bucket. It was damaged and we would be unable to evacuate it without more crewmembers to load the helicopter.

    We troubleshot the situation back at the helicopter base and found that dust had jammed the pilot’s side cargo release switch in the release position, which caused the hook to open when I moved the SAFE/ARMED switch to ARMED. This would have been caught during the cargo hook check, had we performed it. The end result was a damaged but repairable bucket and lessons learned for us about being in a hurry. Take the time to do what you know needs to be checked in your preflight — all of it.



    • 14 August 2022
    • Author: USACRC Editor
    • Number of views: 316
    • Comments: 0
    Categories: On-DutyAviation