(MENAFN - Arab News) LONDON: A flock of geese slammed into the windscreen of an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter disabling the pilot and co-pilot and leading to the crash that killed four US Air Force crew members US investigators said Wednesday.
The military helicopter US Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk based at Lakenheath airbase crashed over a nature reserve in in Norfolk on the eastern coast of England while on a training mission.
The helicopter which crashed during a nighttime rescue training mission was flying over grass-covered marshland near Cley next the Sea and the investigation concluded Wednesday that the birds were likely startled by the noise.
The US Air Force identified the victims as Capt. Christopher S. Stover and Capt. Sean M. Ruane who were piloting the plane and Tech. Sgt. Dale E. Mathews and SSgt Afton M. Ponce.
The Pave Hawk copter was assigned to the 48th Figher Wing and based at the Royal Air Force station in Lakenheath.
As the helicopters approached a flock of geese flew off from the reserve in Cley-next-the-Sea probably startled by the noise the military investigators' report said.
At least three birds crashed through the windscreen into the cockpit knocking the pilot co-pilot and aerial gunner unconscious said a statement from the Accident Investigation Board issued by US Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.
One of the geese also disabled some of the flight controls of the chopper whose crew were practicing a night-time rescue of a downed F-16 pilot at the time of the crash.
'With the mishap pilot and mishap co-pilot unconscious and the trim and flight path stabilization disabled the MA's (mishap aircraft's) cyclic stick which controls pitch and roll of the aircraft was free to move randomly" the statement said.