AMERICAN FORK CANYON, Utah — Crews successfully removed two Utah Army National Guard helicopters from American Fork Canyon on Wednesday following a training crash last week.
Earlier in the day, straps were attached to both UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Just before 3 p.m., a Chinook helicopter lifted one of the helicopters off the mountain and flew it to Heber Valley Airport. The Chinook returned to the Mineral Basin crash site and removed the second Black Hawk about 30 minutes later.
"I know this particular pilot of the Chinook has done Black Hawk extractions in the past," Chief Warrant Officer Jared Jones said. "We train to it, we have a downed aircraft recovery team. Add a rigging team and a maintenance team, it comes together in carefully orchestrated plans for the event."
Members of both the Utah and Nevada Army National Guard participated in the recovery efforts using maintenance aerial-recovery kits.
After being dropped off, the Black Hawks will be loaded onto trailers to be transported to the Utah Army Aviation Support Facility in West Jordan on Thursday.
The helicopters crashed during a winter training incident in American Fork Canyon on Feb. 22. None of the crew with the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment were injured, but it's unknown if the helicopters can be used again in the future.
"Although military training operations can be dangerous, accidents of this nature rarely happen," said Col. Shane Manwaring, commander, 97th Aviation Troop Command. "Our Soldiers have worked tirelessly to prepare the aircraft for extraction from the area. It has been great to see our community partners support these efforts, especially the agencies of Snowbird, the U.S. Forest Service, Wasatch County, Wasatch County Sheriff, Heber City Police, Utah Highway Patrol, and the Heber Valley Airport."
Once the snow melts near Snowbird and Mineral Basin, crews will return to perform do a detailed assessment and pick up any pieces that were left behind, as well as any information they could gather.