Marine helicopter window frame falls on Ginowan school yard
A window frame from a CH-53E transport helicopter fell Wednesday on the grounds of an elementary school in Ginowan.
According to local TV news and other sources, the window pane is about 90 centimeters square weighing about 8 kilograms. The pilot of the helicopter noticed the window pane falling off and immediately returned to MCAS Futenma and reported the incident.
No one on the ground was hurt, although one student reportedly said that s small stones scattered by the impact had hit his arm, but there were no injuries Some 60 students were on the schoolyard when the incident happened.
Brig. Gen. Paul Rock, the commander of Marine Corps Installations Pacific and Camp Butler, met and apologized to Okinawa Vice Gov. Moritake Tomikawa later on the same day. “I would like to express my sincere apology for the anxiety caused to the people of Okinawa by today’s highly regrettable incident,” he said.
The Marines suspended flights of the same type of helicopters had been suspended pending an investigation to the incident.
The incident fueled calls among local politicians to close the MCAS Futenma. A similar incident took place just a week ago on Thursday, when a small object that was suspected to have fallen off a U.S. military aircraft was found on the roof of a nursery about 300 meters from the air station. The U.S. military has denied the cylindrical object fell from a helicopter although they have admitted that it’s a plastic cover of equipment used to detect damage in the rotor wings of a CH-53E helicopter.
In October, when a CH-53E helicopter from MCAS Futenma burst into flames, was forced to crash-land and burned down in Higashi Village, the U.S. military suspended flights of the aircraft after the incident but resumed operations a week later.