Bird Strikes Caused Fatal HH-60 Crash

Multiple bird strikes caused the fatal HH-60 Pave Hawk crash on the Norfolk coast of England back in January, US Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa investigators determined. The flight of two HH-60s diverted over a marsh area to avoid populated areas during a night search training mission from RAF Lakenheath, England, Jan. 7. The helicopters startled a flock of geese, several of which took flight and crashed through the Pave Hawk’s windscreen and cabin knocking the pilot, copilot, and gunner unconscious, according to the investigation’s executive summary, released July 8. “The types of geese that hit the [Pave Hawk] weigh between six and 12 pounds,” states the report. “A bird weighing 7.5 pounds would impact with 53 times the kinetic energy of a baseball moving at 100 miles per hour. The impact from the geese exceeded the design tolerance of the [mishap aircraft’s] windscreen.” The impact also disabled the helo’s flight-path stabilization system, allowing the HH-60 to roll left, stall the rotors and impact the ground, killing all four crewmembers. The crash caused minimal damage to civilian property, but accident investigators pegged the loss of government property at an estimated $40.3 million. Pave Hawk serial number 88-26109 was assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron at Lakenheath.