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Warning light causes US helicopter to make ‘preventive landing’ on Okinawa

A UH-1Y Venom participates in a training exercise at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Feb. 22, 2017.

ZACHARY MARTYN/U.S. AIR FORCE

By HANA KUSUMOTO AND MATTHEW M. BURKE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 7, 2018

There were no injuries after a U.S. military helicopter made an emergency landing Saturday on Okinawa, Marine Corps and Japanese officials said.

The Marines told Japanese officials that a UH-1Y Venom from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing made a “preventive landing” just after 4 p.m. on an Ikei Island beach after a warning light came on indicating excessive speed from its main rotor, said a spokesman for the Okinawa Defense Bureau, which is part of Japan's Defense Ministry.

There were no reports of damage or injuries, including to the Venom’s four crew members, the spokesman said. The aircraft was still at the beach Sunday being checked by the Marines.

A witness told Okinawa Prefectural Police there was no fire or smoke coming from the helicopter after the incident.

Marine officials confirmed that the landing was made because of indications that the aircraft’s main rotor was moving too fast.

"We are grateful that all crew members are unharmed, no one was hurt and no property was damaged," Marine 2nd Lt. Gregory Cronen told Stars and Stripes in a statement Sunday.

The Marine Corps vowed to "rigorously" investigate the cause of the incident.
"We care deeply for the safety of both our pilots and crew in our aircraft as well as the communities around which we operate," he said.

The incident is the latest in a string of recent U.S. military aircraft mishaps on or around the southern Japanese island prefecture that have led to heightened safety concerns among Okinawa’s local population.

On Dec. 13, a CH-53E Super Stallion’s window inexplicably became separated from the aircraft and landed on an elementary school sports field adjacent to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma’s fence line. More than 50 schoolchildren were playing at the time, and one boy was slightly injured from a pebble that flew up during impact.

On Dec. 7, a plastic part thought to belong to a U.S. military helicopter landed on the roof of a local day care facility, leading to protests in front of U.S. military facilities.

In October, a 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Super Stallion made an emergency landing in a farmer’s field outside Okinawa’s Northern Training Area after an inflight fire. The aircraft was an almost total loss.

kusumoto.hana@stripes.com
burke.matt@stripes.com

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