Precautionary Landing Turns Into Training Opportunity

August 27, 2010

HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. (August 27, 2010) – The Maryland Army National Guard’s 29th Combat Aviation Brigade, based in the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, has increased its flying time due to an upcoming deployment. Training has intensified, and every flight is a training opportunity.

On Thursday morning, one of its UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters was on a training mission near Havre De Grace, Md., when it experienced a power loss in the right engine. The two pilots initiated appropriate actions and decided to make a precautionary landing on a baseball field near Havre de Grace Middle School.

“This is a real-world type of mission for our Soldiers. They get to practice recovery of a downed aircraft,” said Chief Warrant Officer Albert B. Isennock, the quality assurance supervisor at Edgewood.  “It’s not uncommon to have an aircraft malfunction in flight. The pilots did the right thing by landing the aircraft.”

The helicopter landed and shut down without incident. There were no injuries, fire or damage to other parts of the aircraft or the surrounding area.

“In a combat zone, this type of mission would be conducted by a battalion-sized force. Today, we’re going to use about 10 Soldiers,” said Isennock.  “We’ll have the engine replaced in just a few hours.”

The 10 Soldiers were from the Army Aviation Support Facility on the Edgewood Area of APG as well as the Combined Support Maintenance Shop in Havre de Grace. They executed the duties of a downed aircraft recovery team performing a field engine change. The damaged engine will be sent to the depot for tear-down analysis to determine the cause of the malfunction.

“The aircraft is capable of flying on one engine,” said Isennock. “It is better to be on the ground wishing you were in the sky than to be in the sky wishing you were on the ground.”

“This is great! Where else do they pay you to do what you love to do,” said Sgt. Alain Hawley, the Blackhawk crew chief.  “Not only do I get to fly them, but I also fix them.”

Preliminary inspection shows that the power turbine module sustained substantial damage. The cause of the engine failure is still under investigation.

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