U.S. helicopter crash that killed four was caused by ‘a flock of geese’

A U.S. military helicopter crash in the U.K., in which four crew members died, was caused by geese hitting the aircraft. The HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter was operating out of RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk when it crashed on Jan. 7 in Norfolk during a routine training exercise. A report into the crash was compiled by the Accident Investigation Board.

At least three geese penetrated the windscreen, rendering the pilot and co-pilot unconscious, and at least one goose struck the aerial gunner in the performance of special mission aviator duties, rendering the aerial gunner unconscious.

Accident Investigation Board

As a result of the pilot and co-pilot being unconscious and the stabilisation systems disabled, the helicopter’s control stick would have moved randomly, the report added. The helicopter banked to the left and, unable to lift vertically, hit the ground within about three seconds of being hit by the geese. captains Christopher S. Stover and Sean M. Ruane, technical sergeant Dale E. Mathews and staff sergeant Afton M. Ponce, who served with 56th Rescue Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing on search and rescue operations, were all killed.

It is inherently dangerous to fly low over an area with a lot of birds and hopefully lessons can be learned from this tragedy.

Local councillor Richard Kelham