Helicopter heard to have “misfired” before fatal crash
A US Air Force Pave-Hawk helicopter crashed yesterday near Cley next the Sea on the Norfolk coast, killing all four crew members on board.
The military helicopter HH-60G Pave Hawk was assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing, based at RAF Lakenhealth in Suffolk, and was taking part in a low-flying training exercise before it plummeted into marshland at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes nature reserve at around 7pm on Tuesday night.
Residents who live near the crash site have said they heard “a heavy and very unusual sound and the aircraft’s engine misfiring” before it came down.
Police have confirmed the aircraft was carrying light ammunition and the bullets have been scattered over a 1,200ft (400m) area, nearly the size of a football pitch. The recovery is expected to take a number of days to complete because of the geography of the area and the debris is vulnerable to be washed away at high tide.
The entire site has been cordoned off and the A149 through Cley is closed. The public has been urged to avoid visiting the marshland and the coastline which is popular for bird watching and other nature activities.
Emergency services have been working at the scene overnight. Chief superintendent Bob Scully, from Norfolk Police, said: “The inquiry was likely to be handed over to UK and US aircraft investigations authorities once the bodies are recovered and removed and the details of the four crew members killed will not be released until next of kin have been informed.”
Pave Hawk helicopters are mostly used in combat search and rescue operations and to recover downed aircrew in war. They have a four man crew and can carry up to 12 troops.
Yesterday’s crash comes less than two months after a police helicopter fell into a pub in Glasgow, killing ten civilians and three crew members on board. Last month Eurocopter, the manufacturer of the EC135 model aircraft which crashed, issued a worldwide safety alert that a fault was found with the fuel indication system on some of their EC135 aircrafts.