Helicopter Pilot Comes Within Inches of Mountainside Crash in Heart-pounding Video

by Craig Garrett
An AB205A-1 of the Italian Army. - stock photo

A viral video shows an Italian helicopter pilot avoiding a crash after straying near a mountain, before regaining control at the last second. The video is from the Alpini, Italy’s elite Alpine military. It was recorded during a training exercise in Merano, The Daily Mail reports.

The AB-205 chopper, from the 4th Army Aviation Regiment “Altair,” was taking part in a multinational exercise in South Tyrol when it got into difficulties. On Monday, as the helicopter attempted to land, high-altitude wind brewed and started spinning the helicopter clockwise. The pilot tried to correct it by turning left. However, the helicopter spun out of control in the air as it hurtled towards the boulders.

David Cenciotti, an aviation expert, weighed in on the footage on his Instagram. “If this happens as the chopper is still in the air, then you just need to let it go until it stops,” Cenciotti said. “The difference is that in this case, the helicopter had already touched down. The risk of crashing is pretty evident.”

The pilot regained control and lifted the aircraft out of danger at the last second. The footage shows the helicopter on its side and the nose pointing towards the rocky coast. One of the blades was damaged upon return to Bolzano airport. Cenciotti stated that another pilot believed the footage was ‘proof of a miracle’.

The helicopter at the center of the crash is being phased out

The 5th Army Aviation Regiment of the Italian Army handed off its AB-205 Huey helicopters on Nov. 17, 2020 and completed its transition to the NH-90. The AB-205, officially designated as UH-205A Combat Support Helicopter (ESC), is a license-built version of the Bell 205/UH–1D Huey. It has been in service since 1966 and was assigned to 27th Group “Mercurio.”

The 5th Army Aviation Regiment “Rigel” borrows its name from the homonymous star of the Orion constellation. It is one of two Aviation Regiments in the Airmobile Brigade “Friuli.” The other regiment is known as 7th Army Aviation Regiment “Vega”.

Three UH-205As from the Casarsa della Delizia airfield made a final flight. They were accompanied by an AH-129D Mangusta attack helicopter, to various locations in Italy where the Huey had operated over its 51 year lifespan. The AB-205 was first delivered to Casarsa in 1969, according to The Aviationist.

Following its delivery to Casarsa, the AB-205 Huey became important for disaster relief operations during the 1976 Friuli earthquake, making over 1000 rescue and transport trips for the people of Friuli. The helicopter has been used in several international missions since 1982, such as in Lebanon, Namibia, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. The operations mentioned above over the former Yugoslavia were conducted by the European Community Monitor Mission and resulted in the tragic death of four Italian crew members and one French officer when their AB-205 was shot down by Yugoslav MiG-21s.