RENO, Nev --- Navy personnel did more than a half million dollars'
damage to their helicopters while trying to shoot photos for their Facebook page over Lake Tahoe, military investigators revealed.
A report released this week described how ten U.S. Navy crew members narrowly averted disaster when their helicopters accidentally dipped into Lake Tahoe in September while they tried to take photos for the squadron's Facebook page.
Crew members from HSM-41 at North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego were returning from an air show in Sacramento when they tried to maneuver their helicopters about 70 feet above the lake to take the Facebook photos.
The Navy report found that crew members' unplanned hovering without sufficient power caused the MH-60R Seahawks to drop without warning to the water of Emerald Bay. Both aircraft were able to regain altitude and land nearby.
There were no injuries, but damage to both helicopters totaled
$505,751 in the incident captured in a video filmed by a group of hikers and posted on YouTube.
The report recommended no punitive action, but a Field Naval Aviator Evaluation Board permanently stripped two Navy instructor pilots from San Diego of their flying status, and ordered two student pilots to undergo at least six months of repeat training. Another flight instructor was placed on a year of probation and can't fly during that time.
"The mishap was entirely preventable," Vice Adm. Allen Myers, commander of all naval air forces, said in the report. "The aviation community was lucky this day, and a horrific loss of life was narrowly avoided."
(Includes link to video)