A military aircraft carrying 22 people – 21 marine officers and a Navy corpsman crashed on Sunday, the 17th of May 2015, killing the pilot and injuring the other twenty-one people aboard. The accident was produced in Hawaii, at Bellows Air Force Station on Oahu, in the morning.
The plane, a Marine Corps Osprey, performed a hard landing at 11:40 a.m. and afterwards caught fire, releasing thick clouds of smoke into the sky. Rescuers came to the site not long after the crash occurred and found the pilot dead and 21 other Marines injured. According to U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific spokesman Captain Alex Lim, their injuries varied in terms of severity, ranging from very serious to superficial. They were taken to local hospitals to receive medical care and there is no information concerning their condition yet. The names of the victims have not been released to the press.
The aircraft was a tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey which is similar to a helicopter regarding takeoff and landing processes but it flies like a plane. It was considered to be a very stable and safe aircraft so it is even more surprising that this crash occurred. The Osprey was on a training flight at Bellows at the time the accident was produced. The people aboard were part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and have been in Hawaii for a week for training. They are based in a Navy of California, at Camp Pendleton.
A few witnesses saw the plane crash. Some of them watched it as it was struggling to recover balance, while performing rotations in the air, above the hills from Bellows. “It looked like they were doing some sort of maneuver or formation,” said Kimberly Hynd, who was at the time hiking on Lanikai Pillbox Trail and who took photos of the plane. She did not hear a loud crash sound, even if she was just two to three miles from the hard landing spot. Other witnesses said they saw what looked like black clouds of smoke coming from the plane, probably after the aircraft caught fire.
Capt. Lim, who spoke on behalf of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, stated that their thoughts are with the victims and especially with the dead pilot’s family and friends, and expressed his regret for such a tragic situation.
However, he also mentioned that it is of upmost importance for the investigators to be focusing their whole energy on determining the causes of the accident which at this point are unknown. There are no speculations in the press as to what might have produced the crash.
Ospreys can carry up to 24 people and are built by Boeing Co. and Bell. Such aircrafts have been involved in accidents in the past, including two test crashes that left 23 Marines dead fifteen years ago. Various mechanical failures have been reported with these planes before. They are usually sent in missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nowadays, there are a few Ospreys helping with the situation caused by the massive earthquake in Nepal.
Image Source: upi