A United States Air Force helicopter has crashed, killing each of the four crew members, while on a training mission. The accident happened near the seaside marshes of Norfolk, England in the eastern part of the country Tuesday evening, stated officials. The HH-60G Pave Hawk, which is the type of aircraft that went down, was an updated version of the U.S. Army’s Black Hawk helicopter.
The chopper was attached to the 48th Fighter Wing, which is located at the Royal Air Force base in Suffolk County. That is also home to the 56th Rescue Squadron and has other USAF personnel and units. RAF Lakenheath is the biggest U.S. Air Force station in England and is the only place where to find any F-15 fighter wings from the U.S. Air Force anywhere inside Europe.
The aircraft was reportedly said to have went down around 6 p.m. local time by the United States Air Force; although Norfolk police have a different story and reported the crash actually occurred closer to 7 p.m. The local fire department declared the first of their emergency rescue units arrived on scene at 7:53 p.m.
One resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, indicated that he had filmed video of two different military aircraft that were both flying “extremely low”. This visual witness information occurred two hours before the accident. Another individual stated that he overheard the crash and believed that the aircraft had actually went down on the beach.
On late Tuesday evening, a U.S. defense member from the Pentagon stated that indeed the crash had killed the four U.S. Air Force crew members onboard. The official only released this information on condition of secrecy because he was unauthorized to talk about the crash in public.
Local police in Norfolk also added that they too believed each of the four crew members was deceased. They explained that family members would all be notified of the deaths before any details of the victims could be released to the general public.
Preliminary reports seemed to have indicated at first that the aircraft had went down into the North Sea, but the Royal National Lifeboat Institution later stated that the United States Air Force helicopter crashed over dry land.
One of the local Norfolk officials stated that the helicopter had gone down in a bird reservation. It is an area which is visited by geese and numerous other types of waterfowl which are journeying from North America, Iceland and Greenland. Local residents wondered if the United States Air Force chopper could have possibly hit one or more of the birds which flew around the 400+ acres of privately protected swamp lands.
The preserve itself had been closed due to fresh coastal flooding.
Emergency personnel, police and the coast guard were all at the crash site. Police stated they believed ammunition remained aboard the chopper, so the scene was taped off from the public in order for officials to make sure the area was safe. Except for the crew, no one was in any danger after the crash occurred. It is unknown what actually caused the accident to happen so an investigation continues.
An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter is mainly used in search and rescue missions and also to remove hostile forces from any aggressive area. It is also used for disaster reply, medical evacuation and humanitarian aid. Pave is in reference to the helicopter’s electronic engineering systems. They usually fly fast and low when in practice, most of the time only at elevations of hundreds, instead of thousands, of feet.
Pave Hawks have been used in many missions, including going to Japan after the 2011 tsunami and to the southern United States in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hit. They also perform military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
Sadly four crew members lost their lives on an United States Air Force Pave Hawk helicopter.
By Kimberly Ruble
The Washington Post