A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster accidentally dropped a U.S. Army Humvee into a rural neighborhood miles from the intended drop zone in North Carolina on Thursday. The Humvee’s parachute deployed and no one was injured in the incident.
The Air Force transport plane hailed from the 437th airlift wing based at Joint Base Charleston and was conducting tests on Fort Bragg on behalf of the U.S. Army’s Operational Test Command. As the massive aircraft dropped down to about 1,500 feet, the heavy load platform deployed prematurely, pulling the Humvee from the aircraft and releasing it’s three parachutes. From there, the Humvee coasted to a safe landing in a wooded lot between two rural properties.
These sorts of drops occur with the assistance of a drag parachute (often referred to as a pilot parachute) that is deployed while the Humvee or other heavy payload is still on board the aircraft. Once the parachute is deployed, the drag it produces pulls the payload out the back bay doors of the plane.
This is how a Humvee drop from a C-17 looks when it’s not over a neighborhood:
“Everything went as planned except for the early release,” said Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum. To be fair, he’s right. The drag parachute that deployed early did successfully pull the Humvee out of the aircraft just as it was designed to do… it just shouldn’t have happened when it did. The tests’ “success,” however, may indicate that this mishap was the result of operator error, rather than some issue with the heavy load platform.
The Humvee and heavy load platform were the only things carried aboard the C-17 at the time of the mishap. An investigation into the incident has been launched, but thus far officials haven’t released any further information regarding how such an error could have occurred. While the incident happened in a rural area just a few miles outside of the base, it goes without saying that accidentally dropping Humvees into residential neighborhoods amounts to the type of error both the U.S. Army and Air Force would like to avoid.
A different Humvee drop mishap drew headlines in 2016 when three U.S. Army Humvees being deployed on heavy-drop platforms careened into the ground after their parachutes failed during training in Germany. Sgt. John Skipper, the soldier responsible for verifying the parachute rigs on the Humvees, was ultimately convicted on charges of destruction of government property and making false official statements once the investigation revealed that Skipper had actually cut the straps on the Humvee parachutes himself. He was reduced in rank to E-1 and awarded a Bad Conduct Discharge by a Court Martial hearing that consisted of both officers and enlisted soldiers.
You can see footage of that dramatic incident below: