Aircraft Was Performing Maintenance Test Flight When It Went Down.
Three soldiers died in the crash of a Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter on Thursday afternoon near St. Cloud, Minnesota in the Midwestern United States. Reports on Twitter from the Minnesota National Guard said that, “Minnesota National Guard lost contact with a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter while it was conducting a maintenance test flight that originated from St. Cloud, Minnesota.”
Communications with the aircraft were lost at approximately 2:15 PM local time according to the Minnesota National Guard.
A report published by ABC News from reporters Luis Martinez and Elizabeth McLaughlin said that, “According to emergency radio calls, the helicopter called in a “mayday” about nine minutes after takeoff. Imagery from later in the afternoon showed what appeared to be wreckage from the Black Hawk just inside a tree line following an intense search effort.”
The local media outlet St. Cloud Times, in a story by reporters Jenny Berg and Anna Haecherl, reported that, “The helicopter took off from St. Cloud about 1:55 p.m. and called mayday about nine minutes after takeoff. The base then lost contact with the aircraft. The helicopter was found by a Minnesota State Patrol trooper just after 4 p.m. near Pearl Lake, just south of Marty and about 15 miles southwest of the departure point.”
This latest fatal accident continues a series of (now) three serious accidents for U.S. Army rotary wing aviation. In September, a fatal accident at Fort Polk Joint Readiness Training Center killed one and injured three others. In November, two U.S. Army AH-64 Apache gunship crewmembers died when their helicopter went down in Afghanistan.