PAF helicopter down

5 crewmen injured

April 14, 2011

MANILA, Philippines - Two military pilots and three crewmembers were injured after their training helicopter crashed in Taytay, Rizal yesterday.

Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. Miguel Okol said the pilot, Lt. Col. Roberto Bitas, and his co-pilot, 1Lt. Paul Ryan Yu, along with three crewmembers, Airman 2nd Class Elias Alinday Jr., Sgt. Edmund Cubillan and S/Sgt Ruel Realin, suffered minor injuries after their training helicopter crashed in Barangay San Isidro, Taytay at about 9:50 a.m.

Okol said the five were on a routine training when their UH-IH “Huey” helicopter suddenly lost power and went down on a hard landing.

The helicopter’s rotor was totally damaged as the aircraft landed on its side, Okol said.

The five men on board the Vietnam-era helicopter came from Villamor Air Base and Sangley Point in Cavite and were proceeding to Rizal as part of Yu’s pilot training qualification course.

Okol said a safety team has been dispatched to the crash site to investigate the cause of the accident.

Rizal provincial police director Senior Superintendent Cezar Prieto said the helicopter made an emergency landing at a vacant lot along Daan Putol in Barangay San Isidro.

Prieto said policemen are helping the Air Force team in investigating the cause of the crash.

The helicopter, with tail no. 662, is one of the two Hueys under the Air Force’s 505th rescue unit.

The aging UH-1H helicopters are the workhorses of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism as well as search and rescue operations, especially in conflict and disaster-prone areas in Mindanao.

Around 20 Huey helicopters from the 38 in the Air Force inventory are still serviceable, but a number of them have figured in accidents in the past.

Following the mishap, Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Oscar Rabena ordered an inspection of all UH-1Hs in its inventory, Okol said.

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