Chinook pilot lands rear section of helicopter on Oregon mountain during spectacular rescue

Peter Stubley

A helicopter pilot performed a spectacular "pinnacle landing" to rescue a climber from the peak of an 11,000ft mountain in Oregon.

The manoeuvre, which is normally used during combat missions in Afghanistan, involved balancing the rear end of a CH-47 Chinook on the snowy side of Mount Hood.

With the tandem rotors still spinning overhead, rescuers crawled out on their hands and knees to escort the 27-year-old man from Texas into the aircraft.

"Because of the angle, we had to crawl out there just to get under the rotor blades," Joshua Kruse, with the 304th rescue squadron, told the KOIN6 TV channel.

"It's kind of surreal but you just have to trust that the pilots know what they're doing."

The rescue mission began on Thursday when the climber called 999 at 2.30pm to say he was on the mountain and was planning to take some medication to end his life.

When the search and rescue team found him on Friday he was uninjured but needed assistance to get down in treacherous conditions.

"This time of day, the mountain just starts to fall apart," said Phil Cole, also from the 304th. "Everything is melting, ice and rock are coming off the mountain. A good analogy is like a bowling alley."

The Oregon Army National Guard sent a Black Hawk helicopter before deciding the best way to extract the group was using a Chinook.

After attempting to land normally on a nearby ridge, the pilot successfully carried out a pinnacle landing to fly the climber to a waiting ambulance.

The manoeuvre, which was also used during the Vietnam War, is perhaps best known from a video filmed during Operation Mountain Resolve in Afghanistan in 2003.

A similar extraction technique known as the "Delta Queen" involves landing the rear in the water to allow special forces to steer their boats directly into the hold.