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Red-Tailed Hawk Caused Fatal 2011 Marine Chopper Crash

AH-1W Super Cobra. Photo by mashleymorgan via Flickr.
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A new report has determined that a deadly 2011 Marine helicopter crash at Camp Pendleton was caused by a bird strike. That bird, specifically, was a female red-tailed hawk, according to UT San Diego.

The crash killed two Marines.

UT San Diego explains what happened:

The hawk, which probably weighed about 3 pounds and had a wingspan of about 4 feet, hit the top of the helicopter and damaged the pitch change link. Within one second of impact with the bird, vibrations in the main rotor caused the rotor and top of the transmission to separate from the aircraft, the report states.
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The helicopter broke into three pieces and smashed to the ground. The debris caught fire and ignited a small brushfire.

"Both pilots onboard, Capt. Jeffrey Bland and 1st Lt. Thomas Heitmann of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Training Squadron 303, were killed instantly," notes the report.

The report also adds that the accident was unavoidable in light of what happened with the bird.

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