"Mammaiut": all the ItAF HH-3Fs grounded

“Mammaiut” is the historical motto of the Soccorso Aereo (SAR, Search And Rescue) of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (Italian Air Force, ItAF). It is shouted by the personnel of the 15° Stormo during official ceremonies in place of the “Ghere Ghe Ghez” shouted by the other units of the ItAF. It was also shouted to honour the lost ones during the funerals of the crew members of the HH-3F “Pelikan” that crashed in France on Oct. 23 during a flight from Dijon to Florennes where the helicopter had to attend the TLP course. “Mammaiut” means “Mum, help me”, an SOS request that sounds perfectly suitable with the current Italian SAR situation. After loosing an helicopter and 8 experienced crew members, the ItAF has decided to ground all its fleet of 30 remaining HH-3Fs until the root cause of the crash is found. The aircraft, performing the daily SAR Service on an H24 basis from Pratica di Mare, Rimini, Brindisi and Trapani airbases, will be “partially” replaced the AB.212AMI-SAR serving with the Squadriglie of Istrana, Linate and Decimomannu. Dealing with the reasons of the tragic accident, I believe that the aircraft crashed into the ground at very high speed and (almost) disintegrated. Most probably, the aircraft suffered a catastrophic collapse and smashed into the ground without giving the crew enough time to react. I believe that they had no warning sign inside the cockpit and for this reason they did not radio any message to the other aircraft that was leading the formation. The pilots had no time to react, nor they did try to slow down the speed to solve the problem nor to land. Everything happened very fast and the aircraft fell at high speed in less than a second. I think only a structural damage, a collapse of the rotor or a fracture of a blade could have such a devastating effect.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.