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New Details From Choppers' Dip in Lake Tahoe NBC B


It's a 20-second, jaw-dropping clip of cell phone video that could ultimately cost two Navy helicopter pilots their flying privileges. It happened two weeks ago at Lake Tahoe and caught sightseers by surprise as they looked over the lake.

"Oh my gosh," a gasping voice is heard saying on the video. Another person said, "they're totally practicing aren't they?"

An official at NAS North Island in San Diego confirmed the authenticity of the video that shows two $33 million MH-60 Romeo helicopters flying over Lake Tahoe on Sept. 13. One of the helicopters appears to come dangerously close to the water before the pilot is able to regain altitude.

US Navy officials from the Pentagon told NBC News this was not a training mission, but that the two helicopter crews were allegedly attempting to take photos of each other’s helicopters hovering just above the waters of Lake Tahoe with the mountains as a majestic backdrop when their photo op went horribly wrong.

Navy officials say the pilots had attempted to go into a routine "hover" but because of the altitude of Lake Tahoe and the weight of the aircraft, the chopper descended and partially submerged before both pilots increased power, pulled the choppers out of the water and averted a disaster.

The helicopters are from North Island's Helicopter Maritime Strike 41 squadron.

"An aviation mishap board has been convened," according to a North Island spokesman.

The spokesperson says the helicopters sustained 'minor damage' and the incident has been classified as a 'Class C' mishap, meaning damage is more than $50,000 but less than $500,000.

The helicopters had taken part in an air show in Sacramento and were heading toward Lemoor Naval Air Station to refuel, according to the spokesperson.

After the incident, the helicopters were taken to the Lake Tahoe Airport for repair. The pilots were flown back to San Diego on a commercial flight. They have both been temporarily grounded pending an investigation.

Lake Tahoe is not a normal training area for the helicopters. The investigation will determine whether the flight over the lake was consistent with the normal flight pattern and flight plan provided by the pilots.

The names of the pilots have not been released. The spokesperson would also not say how long the pilots have been with the Navy.

It’s not known how many people were on board the helicopters at the time of the incident. Normally, there are two pilots and one air crewman on board.

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  • Bugstomper#

    Bugstomper October 14, 2010 7:06:26 AM CEST

    Originally I'd seen a video claiming that it was alien technology that allowed the Blackhawk Helicopter to go into the water. Now after watching this video, the close up shows that it was pilot error.

  • Glphil#

    Glphil October 7, 2010 8:31:52 AM CEST

    I know this is really goofy, and way out in left field, but when the woman sez, "I didn't know they could do that!", it reminded me when I saw a bald eagle land on a lake to get some poor baby ducklings. Mama duck did not stop quacking and raising a fuss for a couple of hours. She didn't lose all her babies, thankfully. Another time I was watching mom and dad crow teaching baby crow about gittin' dinner. One of the adults and baby watched from a dock as the other adult flew around a bit, and right in front of the other two, it dropped right into the lake, and bounced right back out with a four or five inch fish in its mouth! (Don't know how mommy fish took it) Prior to seeing these two events I didn't realize non-waterfowl could land in water like that. Having worked at a zoo and handling parrots and macaws, I now know how light they are, and because of that, there is no chance of them sinking. They also have oil in their feathers that would keep them dry, for a while anyway. The only problem would be taking off from the water surface. Strong flyers like eagles and crows don't seem to have any problems, they take off straight up! I would have to think, that birds that have to run on the ground to take off would probably be in trouble if they ended in the water. If they were near shore they might get a chance to escape. There is no chance of them sinking, I learned, because birds are extremely light. Their bones aren't solid, they appear as they though the are mostly air bubbles. Poor description can't think of any apropos description. I live in Washington state. The bald eagles here are going to run up to a seven foot wingspan, body length 30 to 35 inches, and weight around ten pounds. End of my story, us old folks love to tell stories! Maybe someone will stumble across it and enjoy it. Peace! an old hippie

  • Loveisallowing#

    Loveisallowing October 4, 2010 10:58:05 AM CEST


  • Lindylou#

    Lindylou October 4, 2010 8:17:23 AM CEST

    W.T.F. I would not has believed this possible if I had'nt seen it for myself. Thank's to the O.P. ;-**

  • Ancientfossil#

    Ancientfossil October 3, 2010 6:39:52 PM CEST

    our tax dollars at work!

  • Malogg#

    Malogg September 29, 2010 1:00:25 AM CEST

    Lmfao the pilots must of forgot to have a shower that morning...

  • Fredje#

    Fredje September 28, 2010 11:15:32 PM CEST

    What skill!

  • Remanuelli#

    Remanuelli September 28, 2010 5:44:42 PM CEST

    Views: 2397 Comments: 5 Favorited:

  • Mayafan#

    Mayafan September 28, 2010 2:17:08 PM CEST

    saves 5 dollars at the carwash lol

  • Ohairy111#

    Ohairy111 September 27, 2010 10:04:01 PM CEST

    Oh my Lanta!! I bet the pilot was shitting his pants after that!!!

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