Chopper’s emergency landing in Hanover cornfield causes stir

Posted at 10:41 PM, Aug 30, 2012

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - State troopers secured the scene of an accident of sorts off Old Quaker Road Thursday and then guarded a crippled Blackhawk chopper throughout the night.

Late Thursday, Air National Guardsmen were trying their best to fix the engines of the downed aircraft, so they could fly it back to base 12 miles south of the corn field.

Their adventure meant a combine wasn't the only heavy equipment in a Hanover corn field Thursday afternoon. " It made for an interesting day,” said Evelyn Bailey, who lives on the farm. “It was hot and boring. This is so exciting."

Mechanical failure forced the guardsmen to land their chopper in a fortunately deserted field. “He had her nose up in the air and was doing his best to set her down,” said an experienced Army hand.

That was retired Army Colonel James Bailey, who said the day on the farm brought back fond memories. “The engine RPM and rotor RPM red-lined, so he had to put it down.” Bailey said. "Over there where [the corn] hadn't been picked."

Troopers directed mechanics from the Guard to the site where the UH-60 Blackhawk, on its way back to Sandston after a training flight, had to make the emergency landing.

Farmer Richard Barnette says he knew it was low as it flew over the farm, and once it landed, he cut a path to make it easier for emergency responders. “I got them something to drink,” Barnette said. “It was three men. They were all OK."

And that fact alone made it easier to watch for Bailey. She said a safe return flight to Sandston would make the day even better. “I want to see it go up,” she said. “I don't know if it'll happen, but it'll be interesting."

Bailey will have to wait at least until Friday afternoon as Guardsmen are expected back at the site at 8 a.m. Friday to begin repair work on the engines.