CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 EMILIO NATALIO
C Company, 6-101 General Support Aviation Battalion
Fort Campbell, Ky.
A simple air mission request from Seoul Air Base to Osan Air Base, with an additional drop off at Yongsan Army Garrison, ended up being a long evening for our crew. The flight was normal and entailed picking up passengers at Osan and dropping them off at Yongsan, with a return to Osan later that night. We performed checklist items before the flight; the crew chief conducted his preflight, while the pilot-in-command and I completed the risk assessment, flight plan and pre-flight of the night vision goggles. We were briefed for the passenger pickup and drop-off, along with day and NVG training before passenger pickup.
After our preflight by the checklist, we ran up the engine and completed a health indicator test check, then departed Seoul Air Base en route to Osan. Upon reaching a checkpoint, we called Osan tower and were cleared to land. On short final, the tower told us to turn left immediately because they had a jet coming in that had either just called in or they had forgotten about.
We turned out to the left and made a wide turn and continued back in. After landing, we rolled up to the VIP parking area and our crew chief jumped out, greeted the passengers and ensured they were secured in the cabin. We then flew to Yongsan, dropped off the passengers and departed to begin the training leg of our flight.
We flew around Prohibited Area 73 up various routes and the pilots swapped duties between navigating and being on the controls. The flight route took us near an area we use for Bambi Bucket training, the site of a dam. We made three landings at the location during the day, then it was time to go to Camp Stanley and refuel. After refueling our aircraft and ourselves, it was dark, so we goggled up and continued our training flight under NVG. We retraced our previous daylight route and returned to the dam.
I was on the controls for an approach to land and came in way too fast and really steep, so I announced I was going to go around. I then made a second attempt at landing. Again, I came in too fast and steep, so I made another go around.
After my second failed attempt, the PC decided to land the aircraft. On our downwind leg, we did a before-landing check and started our approach. I was sitting in the right seat, scanning the area. There was a structure to our immediate right with a tin roof that we had avoided during our three day landings. We didn’t want to blow off the roof or damage the structure.
As I scanned to the right and left out the nose of the aircraft, the crew chief announced, “We are coming in hot.” We smacked the ground and rolled forward a couple of feet, and I struck my head on the door. After the aircraft stopped moving forward, the PC leveled the rotor disk and I asked that everyone say if they were all right or injured. The crew chief said over the internal communication system,” I’m OK.” The PC said the same. I told them I was all right, just a little jarred. Then the crew chief announced, “Emergency engine shutdown.”
At this point, I had the controls and the PC shut down the aircraft. As we unbuckled our seat belts, the PC’s and my goggles had detached from our helmets and stayed in the aircraft only because we had the heads-up display attached. The right chin bubble had not been so lucky. My weight bag flew off my helmet and went through it. We called all the appropriate people and were picked up and taken to the hospital for a check-up. After our debriefing from our leadership, we went home.
We all came in for the accident investigation and told our version of the events. They pulled all our records and paperwork. Lessons learned from this would be:
• We had done a recon of the area during the day — positive
• Flight plan/risk assessment/performance planning card/reading card files all in order — positive
• Crew brief before the flight included the flight route for the AMR and training portions, as well as what we would do in case of a emergency — positive
• Establishing common terminology was definitely something we needed to work on. “Coming in hot” was not the acceptable terminology — negative
• From that point on, we established that “climb” or “go around” would initiate just that.
At the end of the day, the accident ending up being a Class C. All three crewmembers, except for some bumps and bruises, were OK. But the experience was something we’ll never forget, and the lessons learned will stay with us our entire careers.