Marine Helicopter Crashes Into Ocean; Three Feared Dead
HONOLULU (AP) _ A Marine helicopter with three people aboard crashed off the island of Oahu on Wednesday while on a flight to check maintenance done on its rotor blades, a Marine spokesman said. There were no reports of survivors.
Marine divers located wreckage in about 30 feet of water a mile offshore but did not find the crew of the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter from the Marine Corps Air Station at Kaneohe, said Chief Warrant Officer Eric R. Carlson.
The helicopter had had its blades removed and reinstalled during routine maintenance, Carlson said. He said the crew had taken the chopper out to make sure that the blades were in balance and that the chopper did not vibrate excessively.
Carolyn Kam, a newscaster at radio station KRTR, said she saw the chopper go down from a window. ″I just thought it was a big piece of something that hit the water,″ she said. ″It made a big splash.″
″It started falling and I saw something fall off of it - maybe it was the tail part that fell,″ said Kam, who added the craft was smoking as it fell to the water.
The Boeing CH-46 has been out of production since 1971, after orders declined with the end of the Vietnam War, said Robert Torgerson, spokesman for Boeing Helicopters in Philadelphia.
It has been used by the Marines since the early 1960s as a troop transport aircraft, and the Navy has also used it to airlift supplies, Torgerson said.
Since discontinuing production, Boeing has made kits to maintain the reliability of the helicopter and extend its life into the 1990s, he said.
Torgerson said there has been no history of mechanical problems with the CH-46, although ″all aircraft that operated for that long have had some incidents.″