A South Carolina National Guard Black Hawk helicopter plunged more than a mile in less than a minute before making an emergency landing Dec. 3 in a field near I-77 and Congaree River.
Guard officials said the 11,000-pound Black Hawk dropped 6,000 feet. There are 5,280 feet in a mile.
A state aviation officer said the crew had been on an instrumentation flight at about 6,000 feet when they heard a bang and felt moderate vibrations that quickly became severe. The incident is under investigation but it is believed the motor failed, the officer said.
The two pilots managed to land the helicopter in a field not far from a Columbia sewage treatment plant, and Heathwood Hall school, using a technique called autorotation. That uses the aircraft’s existing momentum to keep the rotor blades spinning.
Landing in the muddy field also lessened the impact.
The two pilots and a passenger in Detachment. 2, F Company, 1-171st General Support Aviation Battalion were not injured. Their names have not been released.
The Black Hawk was airlifted out of the field Sunday by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.