Wire Strike – RAF Chinook

7 Aug 20 14 Comments

I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

According to forces.net, the Royal Air Force Chinook based at RAF Odiham (Hampshire) was taking part in a low level training sortie on its way to Devon when it struck powerlines, causing a power cut in the local area. The Chinook landed safely in a field in Wales, with one crew member suffering minor injuries from the broken glass.

Photograph by British Forces Broadcasting Service

ITV interviewed the villagers in Carmarthenshire where the Chinook came down.

“It’s a very quiet village, nothing exciting usually happens and there’s not a lot going on,” said 81-year-old resident John Davies.

We all heard it before seeing anything. It was really loud and blaring, but something sounded off, there was a sort of chuckling as the helicopter flew over the house. The power went off at around 8.30pm and we had an alert saying that they were trying to get it back on. It was only off for around an hour but everyone was on their doorsteps wondering what was going on.

Another resident explained how they travelled to the field to make sure that no one was injured in the emergency landing.

Lucky that no-one was hurt because it could have been a lot worse. We asked the crew members if they needed anything or if we could get them some food or some fish and chips and went down later on and had tea and biscuits with them.

I hope that if I ever have to make an emergency landing, that it happens in Wales.

Photograph found on Facebook with no attribution.

That was a very lucky crew although the fate of the poor Chinook remains unclear. RAF crew have been stationed in the field, apparently trying to work out how to get it back to Hampshire. One resident of the village said that they’d been asked if they would be able to accommodate crew members for the following week. In the meantime, local police and RAF Mountain Rescue are maintaining security at the site.

It’s tempting to come up with a caption for the photograph. “Dinosaur attack in Wales; Chinook wins.”

Category: Crazy,


  • Since it happened in Wales, the correct caption should be: “Dragon attack in Wales; Chinook wins.”

  • We live near Salisbury, and have supergrid power lines over the paddocks at the back of our house. Chinooks (with that unmistakable thumping from the crossing rotors) come over at least once a month, really low, clearly using the power lines for navigation. We’ve seen at least one on our side of the power lines, below the top earthing wire, so under 100ft. Great given my interest in aviation, and clearly the kind of flying they need to practice for combat, but one suspects with significant risks if anything goes wrong…

    Our location is also good in terms of aircraft coming back from the Bournemouth air show, including a very low pass from the penultimate flight of the last Vulcan bomber. Looking up and hearing the roar of the engines and that wonderful delta wing, I’m glad I was never in the position of watching the bombs coming out of them…

  • I thought we were too lucky getting two posts on one day! Is the 2nd post that was briefly up (to do with disengaging the autopilot) going to come back next week?

  • Amazingly lucky. I’m a helo pilot, and the rule when flying low enough to strike wires is to always fly over a pole tower, never between them. The Chinook is an NOE (napp-of-the-earth) bird, and has automatic terrain avoidance radar to let the pilot fly very close to the ground, just over the tree tops. But no NOE system is perfect, and pilots are always supposed to be on the lookout for wires, and more importantly, the poles or towers to which they connect.

    In the US, and much of the world, helicopters have wire cutters above and below the cockpit — V-shaped sharp metal jaws that guide a wire into a knife to snap the wire before it hits the rotor mast. On smaller craft these look like large beaks sticking out of the cockpit bubble.

    US Army Chinooks have these as well, but I saw no sign of it on the RAF Chinook. Perhaps it got sheared off?

    I’m inclined to think there must have been wire cutters, because otherwise I’d expect to have seen catastrophic damage to the rotor system, but it seemed perfectly intact (the blades-askew position in your photo can be normal for a powered-down rotor).

  • I assumed they could have called Autoglass to pop in a new windscreen and fly back to base :)
    Seriously, I am relieved it was not much worse!

  • It goes to show that even highly trained pilots can run into trouble. Flying t low altitudes is something that air force crews are specialists in. Even high performance jets often practice low level flying.
    My first job as a commercial pilot was in aerial advertising, in other words: towing a banner with a message. Usually commerical, but on occasion it could be of a more personal nature like “Mary will you marry me?”. How could she refuse?
    These were the wild “cowboy” days”. Anyway, the Piper Super Cubs that were the mainstay of these kind of operations could pull a banner and cruise at indicated speeds that would have been below the normal stalling speed. This was probably partly because of the stabilising effect of the banner and of the nose-high attitude. In order to counteract this we would fly with one notch of flaps extended. Because of the drag from the banner, we would probably just make about 40 kts with the engine running at 2100 RPM. Adding power would not really increase the speed, but it would increase the fuel consumption and the oil- and cylinder head temperature.
    In those days we would get paid by the flying hour, so if the weather deteriorated we would be reluctant to return to base prematurely.
    If we did get caught in bad weather the wise course of action would have been to release the banner and head for home. That would not make us popular with the owner of the property on which it had fallen – with the risk of damage, even injury because the banner was attached to a solid metal front boom, nor with the operator who would lose his banner or pay for damages caused. So we soldiered on, in a few cases we returned with the banner (of course) in IMC. And it could even have been below Cat one.
    Yes, those were the (cowboys) days my friend. And they did end. What we got away with then would not be tolerated today.
    Maybe just as well, but flying has become very much regluated and automated.

  • Hope they had their wellies on – no animals were damaged during this emergency – just saying lol

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