Officials found the “black boxes” from two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters that crashed last week in Kentucky, according to the military. The crash killed all nine soldiers aboard.
An aviation safety team out of Fort Rucker, Alabama, found the black box flight data recorders. The nickname “black box” comes from shorthand lingo in the commercial piloting industry. A news release from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) said the aircraft that went down were HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
The choppers crashed near Fort Campbell during a training exercise on the evening of March 29. The training was a nighttime-specific mission, and now the recorders move to Fort Rucker for more analysis.
“The duration of the investigation is determined by the thorough analysis of all factors,” division spokesman Lt. Col. Tony Hoefler said in the news release.
Army spokespeople also added that the pilots were wearing night-vision goggles during the exercise. Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the 101st Airborne deputy commander, also said the accident transpired while airborne — not during a medical evacuation drill.
In the aftermath of the crash, three of the soldiers who perished received posthumous promotions to the next higher grade, according to officials. Sgt. Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, 23, of Austin, Texas; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Zachary Esparza, 36, of Jackson, Missouri; and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Aaron Healy, 32, of Cape Coral, Florida all received the promotions.
The others killed were Warrant Officer 1 Jeffery Barnes, 33, of Milton, Florida; Sgt. Isaacjohn Gayo, 27, of Los Angeles, California; Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Gore, 25, of Morehead City, North Carolina; Staff Sgt. Taylor Mitchell, 30, of Mountain Brook, Alabama; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith, 32, of Rolla, Missouri; and Sgt. David Solinas Jr., 23, of Oradell, New Jersey, the Army said.
The Black Hawk helicopter is a critical work horse for the U.S. Army, used in security, transport, medical evacuations, and search & rescue
Two Tennessee National Guardsmen recently perished in another Black Hawk helicopter training mission gone awry. The Guardsmen were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Wadham from Joelton and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Danny Randolph of Murfreesboro, Nashville’s WKRN reports. With a combined 28 years of service, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Randy Wadham and Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Randolph headed up the A Company within the 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion located at Nashville’s Berry Field Air National Guard Base.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of two Tennessee National Guardsmen, and our prayers are with their families during this heartbreaking tragedy,” expressed Brig. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “We ask Tennesseans to join us in supporting their families during this time of unthinkable grief.”
Aviation expert Larry Williams weighed in on the tragedy after it occurred, saying the military would need to check the wreckage for evidence of equipment malfunction.
“What they’ll do is just basically try to… investigate the accident and try to see what, if any, failures of any components,” Williams explained. “I would basically look at the main rotor first and of course the tail rotor.”