Japanese mayor: Halt U.S. copter flights
Stars and Stripes June 25, 2003
FUTENMA MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, Okinawa — Two unscheduled landings by separate aircraft has sparked a call from a local mayor to halt military flights on Okinawa.
Marine Corps officials have confirmed that at 5:30 p.m. Friday, a Marine KC-130 set down because a trouble indicator light, on one of its four engines, illuminated. The plane landed safely.
About a half hour later, a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter had a problem with its landing gear while taxiing.
The helicopter apparently lifted off the ground briefly, then landed when the wheels didn’t function properly. The pilots and crew were conducting pre-flight control checks when the incident occurred.
“One of the crew realized there were problems with the landing gear and sat the helicopter down on its belly,” Marine spokeswoman 1st Lt. Amy Malugani said.
The helicopter never left the air station, she added.
The Okinawa Times reported the helicopter made a belly landing and was tilted, sitting on the runway. Crash, fire and rescue trucks surrounded the aircraft while maintenance crews worked on it.
Ginowan Mayor Yoichi Iha told the Okinawa Times, “I will demand the flight of helicopters be suspended until investigation of the cause of the accident is completed. In the future, I will file a request with the military to halt all the flights over the residential areas.”
Iha also contends Marines released insufficient information about the incidents.
The Defense Facilities Administration Bureau, Naha, asked that the cause of the incidents be investigated thoroughly, the Okinawa Times reported.