Incident Sikorsky UH-60A Black Hawk 80-23426,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 77615
 
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Date:Saturday 2 July 1983
Time:day
Type:Silhouette image of generic H60 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Sikorsky UH-60A Black Hawk
Owner/operator:United States Army Aviation
Registration: 80-23426
MSN: 70.184
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 6
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Pirmasens/Husterhöh Kaserne -   Germany
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Demo/Airshow/Display
Departure airport:Pirmasens/Husterhöh-Kaserne
Destination airport:local
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Narrative:
Crashed between two buildings at Husterhöh-Kaserne, Pirmasens during aerobatic maneuver on "Open-Day" after clipping a tree 3 American and 3 German military personnel seriously injured. CWO 2 Daniel Parker, pilot broken arm, re-turned to unit. 1st Lt. Weslie powell co-pilot bruises, returned to unit. Sp4 James Volkerts, crew chief, multiple broken bones. All are from the 3rd Aviation Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Wurzburg. German Observers were: Sgt. Thomas Krugar, Army Aviation Regiment 6, Itzehoe, returned to unit. Capt. Manfred Bartz, Army Aviation Regiment 16, Celle, seriously injured, with a fractured lower spine.The narrative is not accurate, as there were no trees present at that time. The UH-60 clipped a boiler room smoke stack and side swiped the eastside of the 5th CEC HQ building and came to rest at the end of the north east corner of the building. First responder was SFC Jesse Rivera assigned to the 5th Combat Equipment Company. That day was the Open Day 4th of July celebration at the Kaserne airshow, during the display of the ability of the Blackhawk UH-60, the craft which was proceeding southward over the airfield sweeping in a side to side action at high speed and at low altitude,began a maneuver at the end of the airstrip making a 1/4 turn during 90 degree in which exceeded to 108 degrees. The aircraft began an immediate lost of altitude descenting clipping the stack about which was about 25ft in height, made of concrete, belonging to the 5th CEC HQ building resulting in the final crash, and resulted in an explosion with a large debris field to the north. Post crash one crew member self extracted and was walking around. The main prop contact was the primary contact with the boiler stack, but the UH-60 was losing altitude prior to this event, this account was from the son of SFC Rivera (9 years old) who was standing in the open field at the southwest view of the crash standing within the u-turn radius of the maneuver of the UH-60, in full/unobstructed view of the crash. SFC Rivera was at the northeast corner of the crash site and was able to respond rapidly to the crash victims and was awarded for his actions to extract the remaining 5 crew members due to the aircraft status of being on fire, which can be verified with DOD orders. To my knowledge every camera was confiscated on the spot by CID agents. This was the account as best I can recall of the situation that occurred July 2, 1983.

Additional narrative from someone who was there: "As often is the case, one report doesn't tell the whole story. I was on-hand during an International "Fly-in" where NATO pilots show-off their latest aircraft. This Army depot post one was at one of my command's Army communities, Pirmasens. A large crowd of Germans were in attendance, when a crew from the 3rd Infantry Division decided to ignore the official festivities start-time, and take some NATO pilots for a joyride in the Army's newest, hottest aircraft that just arrived in-theater. The community commander, Brigadier G Harry Walker, who I knew from a previous assignment, and I were walking to where he would make a short welcome speech, and an emcee would introduce each event to start the official festivities and airshow. I came at the invitation of my local community public affairs officer.

As we approached the airfield, the Blackhawk lifted from the airfield and flew directly over our head. General Walker and I knew instantly that it was either deliberate or a screw-up by a crew who didn't get the word. When it made a too-tight bank, almost horizontal to the ground, we could see the pilot entered the turn with too-little power, watched the nose dip and the aircraft disappeared behind some barracks, followed by a plume of smoke. I yelled, "Sir, he is going to crash" just at the moment the bird plunged. As the major command senior public affairs officer (PAO), I directed the community PAO to handle the press and stop the Military Police from trying to rip film from cameras of the German guests (setting back hard-earned relations with our guests. There was no security legal requirement to confiscated film by members of the public in a public setting up to that point, but photos of actual wounded were restricted). I informed BG Walker I would call our 3-star boss at our major command (which he would have had to take time to do) and then I would call the United States Army Europe command center duty officer to inform the (CINC, USAREUR). I noted the Blackhawk impacted a long horizontal section of masonry wall of a barracks used to house Polish labor guards. It appeared this may have contributed to saving lives of crew by absorbing the impact of the crash as the aircraft skidded along the wall and leaving a long gash that appeared to have made by the aircraft blades. The room occupant was unhurt.

(Never let the press be the first notification your bosses receives of an incident involving U.S. troops in their commands)

Glad I notified theater officials The Geman wireservice DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur), notorious for blasting out any information without any fact-checking, reported all nine aboard were killed. In fact, none were. Serious injuries, yes, including back and limbs, but the monocoque cockpit design of this forgiving, survivable aircraft did it's design job protecting the crew. After the safety report, both pilot and co-pilot lost their careers.

Additional narrative provided by Colonel Sonny Craven, U.S. Army, Chief of Public Affairs, 21st Support Command.

I was there as a visitor at the festival at that time. I saw the crew and guests - the German pilots - board the helicopter. Later I witnessed the crash. The aircraft banked hard, it looked like at least 90 degrees, possibly more, from my point of view, and flew very low.
The impact itself wasn´t visible from where I stood at the edge of the airfield. But immediately recognizable were torn fragments of the rotorblades, which flew up when the aircraft crashed between the buldings.
I was standing next to a fire truck. Almost instantly a German fireman called out to festival visitors to get out of the way, the men jumped on the truck and where under way seconds after the crash. In the aftermath people in shock were milling around on the airstrip, and I saw a German officer(?) sitting there distraught, because his comrades were on board the helicopter.
Tobias Dietze, resident of Pirmasens in 1983.


Sources:

Scramble
Hamburger Abendblatt 4.7.1983, p18

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
07-Sep-2010 14:30 ASN Archive
26-Apr-2011 16:41 TB Updated [Time, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
27-Apr-2011 05:20 TB Updated [Departure airport, Narrative]
21-Jul-2012 00:59 Mvolkerts Updated [Source, Damage, Narrative]
01-Aug-2012 00:18 James Updated [Narrative]
24-Apr-2013 15:22 TB Updated [Operator, Location, Source]
06-May-2014 18:57 Anon. Updated [Damage, Narrative]
07-May-2014 07:56 Anon. Updated [Location, Narrative]
17-Aug-2015 15:55 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
08-Dec-2017 18:43 Moniecuz01 Updated [Narrative]
21-Oct-2019 05:44 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
21-Dec-2019 09:44 Badger43 Updated [Narrative]
03-Feb-2020 17:33 Capt617 Updated [Narrative]
22-Jun-2022 17:32 The Friedrich Updated [Narrative]

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