Military helicopter crashes

Discussion in 'The Fire For Effect and Totally Politically Incorr' started by ysacres, Mar 6, 2003.

  1. ysacres

    ysacres Well-Known Member

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    1952Sniper
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 1135
    (2/26/03 1:25:39 pm)
    Reply Military helicopter crashes
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    I'm getting pretty tired of hearing about all the soldiers we keep losing in helicopter crashes. I know that military service is not all fun and games, but we've lost more soldiers to these crashes than anything else I can think of in recent memory. We just lost 4 more this week in Kuwait.

    It's pretty sad when we deploy our troops and end up killing more of them than the enemy does. There has got to be some type of solution to this problem.
    Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht!

    kdub01
    *TFF Senior Staff*
    Posts: 2152
    (2/26/03 5:59:03 pm)
    Reply Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    Hafta let our resident military helicopter expert, Warpig, address this issue.

    Keep in mind a helicopter is a device invented and assembled by man that is always trying it's best to disentregate into all it's known parts at all times of operation. Probably the only other type of aircraft in the same catagory at this time is the V-22 Osprey.
    "Keep Off The Ridgeline"


    1952Sniper
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 1142
    (2/27/03 8:34:30 am)
    Reply Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    I don't think the mechanical aspect has been at fault recently. Mostly it's "brown-outs" and dust storms causing the pilots to become disoriented.

    Maybe it's just me, but I would think that these guys should have their instrument ratings. Not being able to see the ground is no excuse for a crash. Any pilot worth his salt should be able to fly by instruments alone. Perhaps the Army is not doing enough training in this area?
    Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht!

    warpig883
    *TFF Staff*
    Posts: 6411
    (2/27/03 11:40:51 am)
    Reply
    Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    Quote:
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    Perhaps the Army is not doing enough training in this area?
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    I know that was a fact when I was messing around with them. There could be a cloud in the sky and many of the pilots would cancel missions. I do know they are supposed to do X amount of hours training with instruments and NVG's a month.

    The military also has a habit of branding everything as pilot or crew error. For instance if a aircraft if flying over a lake and the rotor blades fly off and it crashes and kills the crew. THe military might say they could have jumped in the water and lived, thus they died as a result of crew error. This is a extreme example and a poor one at that but you get the idea.


    The thing with helicopters is they are much more inherently dangerous than an airplane or other pieces of machinery. Lots of linkages, bearings, rotating parts, hydraulic systems and over the last 25 years electronics have been thrown into the mix.

    Plus they are hard to fly and maintain. They don't really fly, they beat the air into submission. There is no gliding they are fight to stay in the air every moment.

    Just look at the complecity of control linkages that it takes to go from a the pilots up down/back forth controls to rotating to adjust the blade pitch. Each blade takes a different pitch during all points of its rotation (except at a hover) so the blade is ALWAYS tiwsting back ond forth where it pivots at the hub. At the same time it flaps up and down, back and forth as it goes from the leading to trailing side of the rotation and all the blades must tilt and move up and down together turn climb and drop.

    The biggest thing that held up the development of the helicopter was a thing called the swashplate. It is a bearing like control that makes the lateral movements of the controls and turns them into rotating movements. The bottom part of the swashplate stays stationary except for up and down movement and the top part spins with the rotor system.

    Then you have to do all this all over again with linkage, driveshafts,hydraulics, gearboxes and swashplate for the tail rotor which also has adjustable pitch.

    Then take a helicopter with more than one engine. It has to have transmissions that combine all the power to one main transmissions. For instance the CH-47 has 5 transmissions.

    And all of the above is controlled and monitored by electronics.

    Very complicated machine that is not forgiving to slight mistakes or malfunctions.

    They operate close to the ground and obstacles with NVG sets strapped to their helmets in the dark and dust from the rotor blades can blind them in day and night. While doing in flight refueling, being shot at, carry internal and external cargo.

    Here is a excellent helicopter sight full of pictures and history of the US Army Chinooks. It has recent pictures of troops fighting in Afganistan and also pictures of crashes in Afganistan.

    www.chinook-helicopter.com/index.html
    10 hours maintenance to every flight hour is not unheard of.

    Here are some morbid pictures of transmission failure in Germany 46 people killed in one crash. Don't know why the pics are so dark, lst time I saw them they were brighter, might be my 'puter.
    This remains one of the darkest days of Army Aviation, I can't find the site that has the clear pictures but it is a series of pictures of a Ch-47 at a airshow in Mannheim Germany. It is loaded up with skydivers and comes apart in midair.
    www.chinook-helicopter.co...22292.html


    Sorry for the ramble. Check out the links for some great Vietnam to present helicopter fighting history and pictures.

    One of my favorite pictures
    www.chinook-helicopter.co..._life.html







    Edited by: warpig883 at: 2/27/03 12:50:16 pm

    1952Sniper
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 1144
    (2/27/03 12:07:24 pm)
    Reply Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    Thanks for the links, WP. BTW, those pics were dark for me too.
    Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht!

    warpig883
    *TFF Staff*
    Posts: 6412
    (2/27/03 12:12:57 pm)
    Reply
    Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    The 160th is the Army Aviaiton Special Ops unit. Here is part of and interview of one of the pilots. Prior to operations in Afghanistan, Cochie said, the 160th's Chinook pilots had never penetrated zero visibility weather at training flight altitudes. "When we started trying to get teams on the ground, we ran into close to zero visibility weather every single night and we ended up turning the aircraft back."


    In the training environment, the pilots observed ceiling and visibility safety minimums. "To go into combat is one thing," he said. "To penetrate weather that's almost down to zero visibility without ever having done it in training was a pretty steep learning curve for all of our crews."


    U.S. pilots finally penetrated the weather, he said, using the CH-47E's terrain-following, terrain-avoidance multimode radar, a relatively new piece of equipment. The first night the helicopters got teams on the ground was a tremendous success, he recalled.


    "It was euphoria really, because we were there and we were doing what needed to be done," Cochie said. "Once we did it the first time, we did it night after night." Getting Special Forces teams on the ground so they could direct the bombs where they needed to go, he added, was a turning point in the war.


    Special operations helicopters generally fly at night about 200 to 300 feet off the ground, maneuvering around towers, over power wires and through mountain ranges, he noted. When they first started flying into Afghan airspace, Taliban fighters were everywhere. "When we fly around at 200, 300 feet, you can hit us with a shotgun," he said.



    This link is a great on with a picture diagram points out problems with rotory wing flight in general and in Afganistan's heat

    www.chinook-helicopter.co...oks_9.html





    Edited by: warpig883 at: 2/27/03 12:15:34 pm

    Smoky14
    V.I.P. Member
    Posts: 382
    (2/27/03 12:33:43 pm)
    Reply Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    Piggy: As we had a patch saying " Flying without feathers ain't easy"

    At times this is too true for words. Remind me to tell you the story of the flying crane and the young WO sometime.

    Smoky the flyer

    warpig883
    *TFF Staff*
    Posts: 6413
    (2/27/03 12:46:25 pm)
    Reply
    Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    I would love to hear it Smoky. I saw a Crane flying over Sioux Falls, Sd about 5 years ago. I know they are still used for logging.






    TF118
    Member
    Posts: 6
    (2/28/03 11:01:17 am)
    Reply Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    Hey WP, sounds like your a fellow ''ROTORHEAD'' !
    I can see from what you wrote that either you are / were one or you worked with them a lot...just anybody don't know what a swashplate is let alone what it does or PC links...got my hand run through a swashplate between the stationary & rotating parts while making a shim pack adjustment on a torque transducer with the aircraft running @ 100%. Not recommended !!
    As far as gliding goes they do, its called autorotation & providing the PC links are properly adjusted you have enough time to fine a hasty LZ ...hopefully ...
    Helicopters are like bumble bee's...on paper, according to physics, they can not fly...yet here they are !!


    Edited by: TF118 at: 2/28/03 11:15:53 am

    warpig883
    *TFF Staff*
    Posts: 6423
    (2/28/03 3:51:03 pm)
    Reply
    Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    Hey, nice to hear from a nuther rotor head.

    I was a 68D Aircraft Powertrain Repairer from '85 to '93. I worked on OH-58, UH-1, AH-1, CH-47, and UH-60 never got to play with a AH-64. My favorite was -47s, that is where I got the air time

    What is your background?

    I've autorotated before, it sure as heck is not a glide. More like a semi-controlled fall, and a scary one at that




    TF118
    Member
    Posts: 7
    (2/28/03 5:21:21 pm)
    Reply Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    YEA !! Me too!! 68D I was assigned to a special opp’s Joint Task Force, TF118 Simmons Army Airfield, Ft Bragg. We spent most of our time deployed in the Persian Gulf covertly flying at night from Navy Frigates shooting Iranian gun boats and catching Iranian bog hammers setting mines in the shipping lanes of the Persian Gulf. We armed and wrote the book on the armed OH-58D. I did all the track & balancing with the vibrex. Got a lot of flight time, every maintenance test flight after phase maintenance I'd through the vibrex on, get all the ground runs done then load up some tools & safety wire, after compass row we'd go for some maintenance test flying and rotor smoothing. 58D's are 2 seat’er I always flew left seat, usually with the same MTP so we knew each other and so I also got plenty of stick time (unofficially of course)
    After the Task Force I went to Sinai Egypt for 1 year on huey's
    Them autorotation's were part of every test flight ...not only did I have to get it smoothed but also had to do an auto rotation to time the rotor speed bleed off, if it was to fast we had to much pitch & lift = not enough glide time, to little pitch not enough lift...= fly like a rock.


    Edited by: TF118 at: 2/28/03 5:30:52 pm

    warpig883
    *TFF Staff*
    Posts: 6424
    (2/28/03 5:45:08 pm)
    Reply
    Re: Military helicopter crashes
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    small world

    I did the track and balance with the Chadwick Helmuth Vibrex on -47s that is where I got my flight hours. When were you in? I was on levy for Sinai when I got out in '93. I had a good friend go there around '90.




    Bill
    Member
    Posts: 36
    (2/28/03 6:59:41 pm)
    Reply Helo Crashes
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    Ahhh, It's great to read emails from folks that know about helo's.
    The original question about loss of life in military helo crashes is an excellent question. Me thinks to answer it properly one would have to write a book.
    Briefly:
    Helo's are very dynamic machines. Just to keep them flying safely requires extremely knowledgable maintenance crews. Helo's do utilitrian jobs close to the ground, terrain, ground fire etc. They work in so many different environments such as blowing sand, night formation, Nap of the earth NVG ops, mountain ops etc.

    Anyone of these demand extreme skill of the pilot and its almost impossible to train every pilot to a proficient skill level in every area of operation.
    I think Army helo training is first rate, but because of the complexities of mission requirements they can only train so far. Pilot's really learn the in and out's of flying after training and on deployment (war).
    Despite excellent training a pilot may encounter something for the first time with a helo loaded with troops... A Fatal accident may occur...Typically no accident occurs and the pilot is now more educated than before..Unfortunately lives are lost due to the high demands placed on pilots operating is very dangerous conditions. Lots more could be said but I'm trying to be brief. Me thinks the general public may not know the risks operating in realistic training exercises and war time operations. However, just ask a Grunt, would you like to march to that hilltop or would you rather helicopter up there....Most will accept the ride despite the risks. Bill

    TF118
    Member
    Posts: 8
    (2/28/03 10:07:26 pm)
    Reply Re: Helo Crashes
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    This last enlistment was 3/89-12/93.
    Bill got it right about pilot skills, training vs. wartime...providing you go to war in similar conditions , like climate & terrain makes all the difference when you train in a forested terrain with good weather then your suddenly thrust into unfamiliar circumstance's then add shooting ...
    Actually although no accidents would be a great achievement, realistically I have got to say that when you look at how many military helicopter's are out there and the amount of flight hrs being put in and for every flight hr there’s at least on average 5 hrs maintenance ...then put these crews under combat conditions in the hostile terrain, weather and enemies I feel that the rate of accidents is remarkably low...don't think me cold for saying that because the loss of air crews strikes close as we are brother's in an inherently dangerous occupation.
    I was Army aviation flying off Navy ships at night...try 90 knots @ 50ft above water at night with NVG's...depth perception ? Hell no ...The Task Force was activated in 87 and remained attached to the Navy and at the week prior to the Gulf War we came online as an Air Cav unit, half maintained our maritime duty and the rest went to Kuwait with 3rd group and a SEAL teem , all those years and hours we lost one aircraft at night while making a turn at low altitude (below 25 ft agl) when the main rotor struck the water...both pilots escaped without serious injury and were picked up by the second aircraft (single engine aircraft always travel in pairs over water), the other aircraft had to jettison their weapons in order to pick the pilots up on the caving latter's but hey happy ending
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