CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 CHRIS MIGHT
B Company, 2-10 Aviation,
Task Force 1-10, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade
Fort Drum, New York
The majority of military aviators know the pressures of flying in a combat environment. The number and frequency of deployments our country’s military has endured to help rid the world of future insurgent attacks ensures that. We continue to put forth the effort to become better and safer pilots to accomplish any mission we are assigned, often in environments that are all too unforgiving.
We constantly practice and rehearse the various types of missions we may have to fly. In combat, we avoid making mistakes that may cause accidents but sometimes fail to see the pressures that may still exist. This is because we strive to be good pilots and just want to do a good job and complete the tasks successfully. We sometimes allow ourselves to get too worked up and, in turn, make faulty decisions. Here’s a case in point.
It was a regular summer day in Iraq with the temperature in the low 100s and plenty of dust lingering in the air. Our mission was to move a fairly large number of Iraqi and U.S. forces from an unsecured location to Forward Operating Base Grizzly. The mission was intended to uncover weapons caches that may be scattered throughout the area. It had been briefed well, and everyone involved had a thorough understanding of what was expected.
Due to the number of personnel needed to execute the mission, a flight of four UH-60Ls was used for transport. Everything was going fine until Chalk 4 suffered a hard landing, which caused the tail wheel fork assembly to come detached from the rest of the tail landing gear assembly. Fortunately, it caused only minor damage to the aircraft. If it hadn’t been for a recently arrived Soldier waiving at the crew chief to get his attention, the crew may have never known what happened.
Apparently, the pilot on the controls was doing all he could to maintain good separation from the aircraft in front and made his approach too rapidly. This resulted in a hard final touchdown. Possibly, the pilot’s anticipation of landing caused him to reduce the power too quickly.
Even though I did not participate in this mission, I knew both of the pilots flying that day and they knew their jobs. One had more than 2,000 hours. The other, who was apparently on the controls at the time of the accident, had fewer hours but a great attitude and was dedicated to becoming a better pilot.
I feel the amount of pressure an individual can put on himself sometimes results in accidents like this one, where the desire to do everything right causes something to go wrong. Allowing oneself to put too much pressure on what you are trying to do can cause you to make an unclear decision or too quick of a control movement.