Black Hawk landing at Japanese college called precautionary
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from Camp Zama, Japan, made an abrupt landing Wednesday morning on a Japanese college athletic field after the pilot became concerned about possible engine trouble.
No injuries or damage to the chopper or property on the ground were reported, said Maj. John Amberg, a Camp Zama spokesman.
The Black Hawk, assigned to U.S. Army Japan’s 78th Aviation Battalion, touched down at 10:40 a.m. near Sophia Junior College in Hadano City, about 13 miles southwest of Camp Zama.
Amberg said the Black Hawk was conducting a routine training mission. On board was a standard crew: pilot, co-pilot and crew chief.
The first Japanese news report of the incident, released shortly after noon Wednesday, said the helicopter made an emergency landing.
But Amberg characterized it as “precautionary” — and said there’s a difference between the two.
“In an emergency landing, you know something is wrong — it’s broke, and you get on the ground fast,” he said. “When it’s precautionary, you think something’s wrong, so in order to be safe, you want … it checked out.
“I think we’ve all driven our cars, felt something was wrong, and it turns out to be nothing.”
The pilot suspected there might be a mechanical problem, so he landed the chopper to be safe, Amberg said Wednesday, adding, “We don’t know if it was engine trouble.”
Army mechanics were dispatched to the site in another Black Hawk to inspect the grounded aircraft. It was determined the chopper could be flown safely back to Camp Zama, Amberg said; both helicopters returned to post about 1 p.m. Wednesday, he said. “Now they want to determine what, if anything, was wrong.”
Hadano City officials wouldn’t comment on the incident Wednesday, saying they were “still gathering information.”
The 78th Aviation Battalion at Camp Zama uses Black Hawks and UC-35 airplanes to provide aviation support to U.S. forces in Japan. This includes routine passenger transportation, disaster relief, and cargo and medical patient transfers.
Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.