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    Following Protocol 0 Aviation
    USACRC Editor

    Following Protocol

    Day-to-day operational activities seem to always provide opportunities for flight crews to grow complacent. Although there is no intent to arbitrarily shortcut proper maintenance procedures, isolated incidents or aircraft discrepancies that are...
    Troubled Waters 0 Sports & Recreation
    USACRC Editor

    Troubled Waters

    Once we got to the river, we were excited to see how high the water had risen. My husband and I were very experienced with a canoe, so we didn’t anticipate any danger. Unfortunately, we didn’t take our friends’ skill levels into...
    A Shocking Surprise 0 Aviation
    USACRC Editor

    A Shocking Surprise

    The weather forecast was typical of a warm, North Carolina spring afternoon — visibility was great with 10 miles and a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms. We had based our mission operations out of a local airport. As lead aircraft...
    A Lack of Intervention 0 PMV-2
    USACRC Editor

    A Lack of Intervention

    I wasn’t there the night the accident happened. I wish I had been. I might have been able to talk some sense into him. However, a chain of bad decisions and lack of intervention would take him from his parents and sibling, his friends, the...

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    Employ Your Fundamentals

    Employ Your Fundamentals

    B Company, 3-2 General Support Aviation Battalion
    Camp Humphreys, Korea

    If you have never flown a Chinook, one of the first things you should know is that rather than a collective for control of the vertical axis, there is a thrust control lever. Additionally, after the Apache, with its tandem-seating configuration, the Chinook probably has the next highest level of breakdown in crew coordination between the rated aviators. The extended space that exists between the two pilots is the cause of this communication breakdown. Flying during nights of low to no illumination further compounds the problem because one pilot cannot see the actions of the other. Here’s my story.

    It was a typical zero percent illumination summer night in Afghanistan. I was in the right seat of Chalk 3 in a flight of three Chinooks conducting an assault into three separate helicopter landing zones (HLZ). The flight to pick up the assaulting force and the flight to the target area both went without incident, as did the flight to our refuel location. After refueling the flight and waiting several hours on the auxiliary power unit, we received the call that we could pick up our ground force. Up to this point, everything had gone according to plan.

    I was on the controls for the ground force exfil. As always, they were set up in a small pod near their exfil HLZ. There were some things that were slightly different on this night, however. The ground element had an individual in custody, controlling him until they were out of the area. The man’s motorcycle and a flock of sheep were also in the vicinity, and the ground element was located in close proximity to the only hard structure anywhere near their HLZ.

    My pilot in command (PC) and I had the entire picture in site before we initiated the approach. To avoid overflight of the ground element, we would have to maneuver the aircraft over the small hut they were near. Recognizing this, I shallowed my approach angle to land forward of the structure. As I continued forward, a dust cloud enveloped our aircraft and my PC exerted downward pressure on the thrust control lever in an effort to get us to the ground. It was at this point that what felt like our aft-left landing gear came into contact with the hut, rotating the front of the aircraft down and right. I was able to correct the attitude and continue forward to set down the aircraft safely. During this time, the rotor wash sent the motorcycle tumbling through the flock of sheep. Once on the ground, we lowered the ramp and the ground force boarded, just like any other mission.

    The remainder of the night continued as planned. It was not until we returned to the forward operating base from where we were operating that one of the crewmembers noticed a large scrape on the aft portion of the left-side fuel cell and minor sheet metal damage on the ramp. It became apparent that it was not the landing gear that contacted the hut, but the body of the aircraft. Had it been the landing gear, there stands the possibility we would have been yet another statistic of Chinook landing gear left on an HLZ.

    During the maneuver, there was plenty of coordination in regard to heading, distance and altitude; but besides mentioning the hut as a hazard, we said nothing else about it. Something as simple as a comment from me, stating my intentions to continue forward to avoid contact with the hut, or the PC stating he was coming onto the controls to get us to the ground, could have prevented the incident. This mission could easily have turned into a catastrophe. At all levels, let us not forget to employ all our crew coordination fundamentals in every aspect of all our flights.

    • 4 June 2023
    • Author: USACRC Editor
    • Number of views: 218
    • Comments: 0
    Categories: On-DutyAviation