A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter has crashed in the US, killing all three National Guard members on board for the second time in two weeks.
Three members of the Idaho Army National Guard were onboard the UH-60 helicopter when it crashed amid a training exercise, just east of Boise, Idaho.
All three members onboard the aircraft were pilots, the Idaho National Guard said, and weather conditions were
Lieutenant Colonel Nicole Washington, an aviation officer with the Guard, said at a news conference on Wednesday that the cause of the crash was as yet unknown, however noted that the weather conditions included snow and a low ceiling of fog.
Lt Col Washington also stated that all three pilots onboard were experienced, having each flown thousands of hours during their careers, and with two being instructors.
The pilots also had night vision goggles on as they flew over mountainous terrain, she said.
“The weather had started to slowly deteriorate. It can start to deteriorate pretty quickly”, she said. “Snow was pretty heavy and the ceiling [of fog] was coming down.”
Lt Col Washington also stated that the pilots made no attempt to signal that they were in trouble before the helicopter crashed.
“No mayday. No declaration of emergency,” she said.
“It leaves a tremendous, indescribable void in our aviation community.”
The cause of the accident is to be investigated by Army aviation safety officials, who will arrive in Boise on Thursday, the Guard said.
Idaho Army National Guard state aviation officer Colonel Christopher Burt said a search for the Sikorsky helicopter began around 8pm on Tuesday after contact was lost.
Another aircraft that initially tried to help in the search for the helicopter had to turn back due to the weather, according to the Guard.
Search crews found the aircraft and the bodies of the pilots shortly after midnight on Wednesday.
“This is a tremendous loss to the Idaho National Guard and our community,” Major General Michael Garshak said in a statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones as we work through this tragedy.”
It is the second crash within two weeks in which members of the National Guard were killed in a UH-60 Black Hawk accident.
On 20 January 2020, three members of the New York Army National Guard were killed during a training mission when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Rochester, New York.
An investigation continues into the cause of both crashes.