Two Black Hawk helicopters crash near Snowbird; no injuries reported

Feb 22, 2022, 10:09 AM | Updated: Mar 4, 2022, 3:19 pm

MINERAL BASIN, Utah — Two Utah National Guard Black Hawk helicopters are down after a crash during a training exercise in American Fork Canyon.

The Utah National Guard says no crew members were injured and both helicopters were damaged in the crash, which happened around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. The crash occurred in the Mineral Basin, near Snowbird, in American Fork Canyon.

“We had this really loud crash happen and we looked back and we saw this rotor flying,” Joseph Schafer, a Provo, Utah resident said. “I was actually surprised that we didn’t hear more about the injuries from people on the ground, mostly because I remeber that rotor flow — luckily to where no one was — but it was definitely in range to fly into the lift line.”

They were two UH-60 helicopters, according to the Utah National Guard’s twitter account. One of the Black Hawks was visible from KSL’s Chopper 5 without blades and resting on its side while the other was upright with blades still attached.

Robbie Shine from Steamboat Springs, Colorado was about to get on a lift with his daughters when the helicopters crashed.

“You could hear metal crashing, a big cloud of all the new snow came flying up,” he said. “It was scary because the one helicopter that (was) closest to the Mineral Basin lift ended up being feet away from where those people were standing.”

In a press conference, Chief Warrant Officer 5, Jared Jones, a spokesman for the National Guard, said the crew trains for landing in snowy conditions, on ice, snow, or even actively falling snow. Jones said these types of trainings with Black Hawks are common and happen on average about once a week.

“As they landed the snow kicked up and the aircraft probably lost sight of the ground,” Jones said.

“I just saw some of the crew myself recently and it was a blessing that everyone was OK,” Jones said.

“We are grateful that no one was seriously injured thanks to the quick reaction and training of both command pilots,” Maj. Matthew Green, commander 2nd GSAB said. “Right now, our top priority is taking care of both crews.”

Both pilots in command were very senior and one had been deployed a few times as an aviator the release said.

“We do train on edge so that we’re ready for a combat environment anywhere in the world and the crew assumes some level of risk. Every time you fly a helicopter there’s a little bit of danger involved. I’m just happy everyone’s okay,” Jones said.

The resort said the basin is closed until further notice.

Viewer video shows Utah National Guard members emerging from Snowbird ski resort’s tram lift while skiers in the area captured video of the helicopters in flight and on the ground.

“It could have been a lot worse and I think the crew with what happened, some quick deliberate thinking, to get everything else down safely, shut the helicopters down and all walk away,” Jones said.

All training flights have been canceled until further notice to review safety protocols and regulations.

The incident is under investigation.

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Two Black Hawk helicopters crash near Snowbird; no injuries reported