By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
The crews of two Navy helicopters that suffered $500,000 in damage and became YouTube sensations when they were accidentally dunked in Lake Tahoe in September are facing consequences, the Navy said Wednesday. The two MH-60R "Romeo" Helicopters from the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41 based at NAS North Island, San Diego, were returning from an airshow at Mather Air Force Base near Sacramento when they flew over the lake, which is not a normal naval training area. According to early reports, the Navy's investigation found the inadvertent dunking "was entirely preventable" and "lack of flight discipline and lack of command oversight" contributed to the accident. So far, the crews reportedly will not face "punitive" action, "but specific administrative measures" will be applied, according to the LA Times. And, for some of the crew, those measures may be extensive.
The Navy has not specified the exact nature of administrative measures to be taken against members of either helicopter's crew; more details may follow. The crews, which included instructor pilots and two other pilots, were immediately grounded following the incident. After repair, the aircraft were flown back to North Island by different crews. Retraining has been ordered for the younger pilots and the instructor pilots lost their flying status, according to a report by the San Diego Union-Tribune that had not been confirmed by the Navy.