Clipped From Ukiah Daily Journal
Army investigates copter crash FORT IRWIN — Military officials combed through the wreckage of a U.S. Army helicopter today in search of the cause of a crash that killed the four crew members aboard. The UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashed on a remote section of the Mojave Desert base around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, said Sgt. 1st Class Jaime Cavazos, a base spokesman. "An investigation is under way by local U.S. Army officials and personnel from the U.S. Army Safety Center in Fort Rucker, Ala.," Cavazos said early today. Names of those killed were being withheld until families were notified. However, all four were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division based at Fort Riley, Kan., Cavazos said. The four were among some 3,500 soldiers taking part in one of 14 annual training exercises at the sprawling base 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles. A crash of another Blackhawk during a similar training exercise at the base last July left six soldiers dead and one injured. The large Blackhawk helicopter is normally operated by a crew of three and can carry up to 11 combat-equipped soldiers in most weather conditions, Cavazos said. It is used in air assault, cavalry and medical evacuation operations. The $4.6 million copter is manufactured by Sikorksy Aircraft, a division of United Technologies, which is based in Stratford, Conn. The Blackhawk, among the Army's newer helicopters, is replacing the venerable UH-1 "Hucy" helicopter and can carry about twice the payload of a Huey, Cavazos said. The Pentagon sold five of the helicopters to Colombia last February for use in fighting drug traffickers. The Army grounded its entire fleet of more than 800 Blackhawks twice in May 1987, once for inspection and once to correct what was called a design flaw. The fleet was also grounded in April 1985 and March 1986 following fatal crashes. In 1985 the Army identified a defect in the craft's main rotor assembly and ordered it corrected.