A US Coast Guard Eurocopter HH-65A Dolphin short-range recovery helicopter crashed in Eureka, California during a rescue mission at around 13:00 on Saturday.

The helicopter was attempting to rescue two people from a small sport fishing boat that had capsized in ocean surf. The cause of the crash is unknown, although all three crew survived.

There is speculation that the aircraft's engines failed, either through lack of fuel or mechanical failure. Photos of the aircraft on its side on the beach show no apparent blade damge, indicating slow hover speed before the aircraft hit the water. The Dolphins, powered by two Lycoming LTS-101-750B-2 engines, normally operate up to 250km (132nm) offshore and will fly at 120kt (225km/h) for three hours.

The helicopter was one of 80 helicopters from an original order of 94 still operational, with 14 stored as non-operational. The aircraft, manufactured in Grand Prairie, Texas, were accepted by the Coast Guard late in 1984. The aircraft was based at Coast Guard Air Station at Humbolt Bay, California.

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Photos of the crashed US Coast Guard HH-65A are available at the website of Eureka daily newspaper, The Times-Standard

Source: Flight International