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The Japan Maritime Staff Office’s investigation panel said pilot error caused an accident with one of its MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters, in which nine people were injured during last May’s Friendship Day at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station.

The panel concluded the pilot didn’t fully understand the helicopter’s features when hovering, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force spokesman in Iwakuni said Wednesday. The pilot also failed to verify the maneuver before creating a rotor wash that blew away the Friendship Day VIP tent, the spokesman said.

The mishap occurred at about 2:30 p.m. May 5, during a Sea Dragon demonstration as part of the event’s air show.

Some bystanders tried to hold down the VIP tent and were injured, as were some visitors seated under or walking directly behind the tent, U.S. officials said shortly after the accident. None of the injuries were life-threatening, they said.

The investigation also suggested the squadron commander failed to plan advance training, the spokesman added.

Two injured spectators were Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station residents; a man had a facial cut and a woman had a cut foot and twisted ankle. Both were treated at Iwakuni’s Navy Branch Medical Clinic, base spokesman Capt. Stewart Upton said after the accident.

Four other people were transported by Japanese ambulance to Iwakuni National Hospital, including a 4-year-old boy with a facial cut and head injury, a 4-year-old girl with a cut leg and a man and woman, each with facial lacerations. One child had minor cuts that did not require hospital treatment, Upton added.

Two other injured male visitors — one with an injured left knee and another with a cheekbone fracture and head injury — were taken by Japanese ambulance to Iwakuni Doctors’ Association Hospital, Upton said.

The JMSDF plans to take “some kind of action” against the pilot, the spokesman said.

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