Coast Guard tells KTVU a team of investigators from around the country are scheduled to arrive sometime Tuesday to determine exactly what went wrong.
It was an usual sight - the MHD-Dolphin helicopter tipped on its side shortly before 3 p.m. Monday afternoon. The aircraft, which crash landed, is normally used for rescue missions. "It's almost the trademark of the Coast Guard when folks are in trouble, in distress on the water... that's what they typically see," said Petty Officer Bill Colclough with the Coast Guard.
But this time, two crew members were inside - a pilot and a flight mechanic.
They were on a routine test maintenance flight. As the chopper hovered at 10 feet above ground, something went wrong. "When they attempted to land, a malfunction occurred and the aircraft landed on its side," said Colclough. The Coast Guard says it doesn't know if the chopper tilted and then crash landed or if the hard landing caused the aircraft to tip on its side. The chopper's fusilage and rotars suffered heavy damage, leaving scattered debris.
Fortunately, the crew survived.
"They walked away from the aircraft relatively unharmed," said Colclough.
The two men were treated at the scene and later taken to San Francisco General Hospital for further examination.
SFO briefly diverted several arriving flights.
Coast Guard says crews from Humboldt Bay and Los Angeles are on standby should there be a need to help respond to an emergency here in the Bay Area."Even a training as routine as this, you can experience an incident and you can't take anything for granted," said Colclough.
The Coast Guard says this aircraft is among the newest in its fleet
The public information officer says he doesn't know if the multi- million dollar helicopter is a total loss.