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Officials Report on Chinook Incidents in Afghanistan

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2005 – A coalition CH-47 Chinook helicopter made a "hard landing" due to "brown-out conditions" as the crew was attempting to insert forces southwest of the city of Spin Buldak on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan late on July 27, military officials reported today.

In aviation circles, brown-out conditions occur when helicopter rotors kick up dust and debris, reducing pilots' vision and can make landing dangerous.

The aircraft, one of two operating in the area at the time, was responding to reports of enemy activity. Chinooks are twin-engine, tandem rotor helicopters designed for transportation of cargo, troops and weapons during day, night, visual and instrument conditions.

Noting that hostile fire was not involved in the incident, officials said the aircraft was destroyed by fire, which is believed to have started from the hard landing. No one was injured in the incident. Afghan National Army and coalition forces have secured the site and a team of investigators is searching for the cause of the incident. An investigation of the April 6 CH-47D Chinook helicopter crash near the Afghan city of Ghazni that killed 18 is complete, and the results have been provided to family members of those killed, according to U.S. officials in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The U.S. Army's Collateral Investigation Board reviewed events leading up to the crash of the helicopter known as "Big Windy 25." Investigators found that the aircraft encountered a severe dust storm with winds of more than 45 knots that caused the pilots to lose outside visibility. The pilots were transitioning to instrument flight procedures when they became spatially disoriented and over-controlled the aircraft, investigators reported.

The five Army crewmembers and the passengers - six Army soldiers, one Marine, two Army National Guard soldiers, one Army Reserve soldier and three civilian contractors -- were killed, and the aircraft was destroyed.

The helicopter, which belonged to F Company, 159th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade, was transporting passengers and supplies from Forward Operations Base Orgun-E Kalan to Forward Operations Base Sarhawdza in Ghazni province.

"We mourn the loss of this crew and its passengers, and will never forget their selfless service and sacrifice," said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jason K. Kamiya, commander of Combined Joint Task Force 76. "We have already implemented or are in the process of implementing the recommendations of the investigation team to preclude tragedies such as this from occurring in the future."

(Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

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