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Helo and the hut.

A CH-53 crew was moving cargo from its home field to another airfield in support of an exercise. After a brief and uneventful 90-minute flight, the aircraft flew an approach to a hover and commenced an air taxi toward the parking area. The aircraft commander, who was in the left seat and flying, landed the helo on the taxiway, which was on a downhill slope.

The pilot stated that although the aircraft was under control, the downward slope landing caused him to be taxiing "faster than he wanted to" which then caused him to make a wider than normal right turn to set up for parking. During the right turn, the CH-53's rotor blades struck a Quonset hut that was on the left side of the aircraft.

The copilot said he felt the helo was close to the Quonset hut, but did not voice his concern. An observer on the right side of the aircraft, who was able to hear but not talk on the ICS, was also not comfortable with the proximity to the Quonset hut but never conveyed his feelings. The observer on the left side of the aircraft was distracted by bystanders waving at the arriving aircraft and his foot was tangled in his ICS cord. He finally regained situational awareness just in time to see the rotor blades hit the Quonset hut.

Post mishap analysis revealed no mechanical problems with the aircraft.

* Grampaw Pettibone says:

They say the best sermons are lived, not preached, but jumpin' jackrabbits kids, why do we keep learning the easy lessons the hard way?!? These four fellers all felt at least a tad uneasy about how close they were to that shack, but not one of them spoke up. Not one! All it would have taken was a "Uh, how we doin' on that building over there?" to focus the attention over to the left side, where it needed to be focused.

Gramps knows what every junior officer knows: When things are confusing, sometimes the loudest person is the leader. That whirlybird needed someone--anyone--to voice his concern about what was going on. The HAC was driving, but the other three crewmembers all had misgivings and sat there like toadstools. We don't like our aviators to be wallflowers, we expect them to step up and take charge when they need to.

Gather around kids and let's learn a lesson. Safety don't know rank. I don't care who you are or what your job is, if you think things are gettin' out of hand, it's YOUR DUTY to speak up and make sure someone knows how you feel. Your duty, kids.

Now skeedaddle and get back to work. Gramps needs a nap!

Illustrations by Ted Wilbur
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Title Annotation:GRAMPAW PETTIBONE
Author:Wilbur, Ted
Publication:Naval Aviation News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2009
Words:453
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