During exercises on Thursday, a USAF Osprey aircraft landed at Addenbrooke Hospital in Cambridge, U.K., briefly and several airmen exited. A few minutes later, with everyone back on board, the Osprey took back off again, this time peeling up large portions of the hospital’s helipad.
Addenbrooke Hospital serves as a trauma center for the area and needs the helipad to receive patients in critical condition, when literally every second counts. At least for the last day or so, those patients have had to go to an airfield nearby and transfer back to the hospital a few miles, by ambulance.
From The Evening Standard:
Dr Victor Inyang, Medical Director of East Anglian Air Ambulance: “Due to an incident at the Cambridge University Hospitals helipad involving a military aircraft on Wednesday 21 April the helipad is temporarily unavailable to air ambulances.
“The next closest helipad is at Cambridge City Airport, where one of the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) teams is based.
“It will be possible for the EAAA helipad to be used as an alternative landing site during this time and have patients transferred to Addenbrooke’s from there by land ambulance.
“Addenbrooke’s is the major trauma centre for the region, therefore quick and efficient transfer of critically ill or injured patients to the hospital is vital.
“Using the EAAA helipad is the best alternative while the CUH helipad is reinstated.”
The spectacular destruction was caught on tape. My initial analysis shows that the Osprey had its rotors vertical when it came in for landing, applying downforce directly onto the helipad. However, when it took off, those rotors were tilted slightly forward, causing both downforce and horizontal force against the flimsy matting which is used as the helipad. Certainly, with the wind force approaching a couple hundred miles an hour, it would blow the helipad apart.
It doesn’t appear that the USAF is going to leave the Brits high and dry, as they have already made comment that they will be working to fix the helipad.
From Yahoo! News:
Major Keavy Rake, from the USAF 48th Fighter Wing told ITV News: “The area was surveyed according to our policies and procedures and some damage did occur.
“We are taking steps to rectify as soon as possible.
“Our units are continuously coordinating with our local partners to improve operations. We are greatly appreciative of the relationship and coordination we have with the UK.”
Video below shows the fateful moment when the helicopter blew the helipad apart. The real action takes place after the 2:15 mark.
It is amazing how powerful those rotors are.