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Al Jaber AB, Kuwait
15 Dec 1999
On 15 Dec 99, at approximately 1725 local (1425 zulu), an HH-60G, S/N 87-26006, call sign “Jolly 12”, landed hard and rolled over, approximately 27.3 miles southeast of Al Jaber AB while making an approach to Bigfoot Landing Zone (LZ). The HH-60G, assigned to the 332d Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, 332 Air Expeditionary Group, Al Jaber Air Base, was the second aircraft in a two ship formation conducting tactical training while deployed. The pilot, Capt. Anderson, the copilot, 1st Lt. Rahman, the flight engineer, TSgt. Hodges and the gunner, SSgt. Rogers are all permanently assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron, 57th Wing, Nellis AFB, Nevada. All crewmembers safely egressed the helicopter following the crash. The only injuries sustained in the crash were muscle strains and minor cuts and bruises. There was no damage or injuries to civilians on the ground.
Jolly 12 departed Al Jaber AB at 1545 local. After completing day water training, the formation proceeded to Bigfoot LZ. At the site, the lead aircraft flew an unaided (without night vision goggles) approach into the landing zone while Jolly 12 remained airborne. While orbiting the site, the crew of Jolly 12 donned their night vision goggles for the night tactical training portion of the sortie. In the site, the gunner of Jolly 11 developed an intercom problem, and the decision was made to terminate the night tactical event. Jolly 11 took off from the site, and both aircraft departed the area to return to Al Jaber AB. About 5 miles from the landing zone, the problem with Jolly 11’s gunner’s intercom was resolved, and the decision was made to return to Bigfoot LZ. Jolly 12 was then led in for a simulated survivor recover. From a loose trail position, the pilot started a normal approach to an intended brown-out landing.
The primary cause of the mishap was pilot error. After starting a normal approach, the pilot allowed his instrument cross check to breakdown and failed to properly respond to crew inputs during the approach. Concentrating almost exclusively on trying to identify his intended landing spot in a featureless desert, the pilot allowed the airspeed to get too slow and developed an excessive sink rate. At between 75 and 100 feet above the ground the aircraft began a nearly vertical descent, landed hard and rolled over. Contributing factors were the crew was not in position to see the landing spot, and the inexperience of the crew. In addition, this night vision goggle training mission was being conducted during nautical twilight, in hazy conditions, which made night vision goggle performance less than optimal.
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