USA — Guard Aircraft Damaged During Alaska Glacier Rescue

CAMP DENALI, Alas­ka — An Alas­ka Army Nation­al Guard UH-60 Black Hawk heli­copter was report­ed to be heav­i­ly dam­aged when it slid and rolled over on Knik Glac­i­er dur­ing a res­cue mis­sion.

The Black Hawk’s three crewmem­bers were report­ed to be unin­jured.

The sol­diers were attempt­ing to res­cue five peo­ple involved in an Aug. 8 air­craft acci­dent.

The 11th Res­cue Coor­di­na­tion Cen­ter dis­patched an HH-60 Pave Hawk heli­copter and HC-130 Her­cules trans­port plane from the Alas­ka Air Nation­al Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Res­cue Squadrons to the scene to assist in recov­ery efforts. The air­craft acci­dent is under inves­ti­ga­tion.

Res­cue cen­ter offi­cials orig­i­nal­ly con­tact­ed the Air Guard squadrons Aug. 8 after a per­son­al loca­tor bea­con sig­naled a pos­si­ble acci­dent at about 1 p.m. The bea­con iden­ti­fied a plane belong­ing to a Palmer, Alas­ka, res­i­dent. The pilot was on a one-hour sight­see­ing trip with four friends from out of state.

“The pilot had tak­en his father’s plane on a sight­see­ing trip from Palmer over the Knik Glac­i­er,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ken­neth Bel­lamy, res­cue coor­di­na­tion cen­ter con­troller for the Alas­ka Air Nation­al Guard. “They were sched­uled to return to Palmer, but the … bea­con gave us coor­di­nates that the plane was on Knik Glac­i­er.”

Week­end alert crews with the Alas­ka Air Nation­al Guard were con­tact­ed and imme­di­ate­ly report­ed to base and launched an HH-60 Pave Hawk and HC-130 Her­cules with parares­cue­men onboard to the coor­di­nates at about the 8,500 foot lev­el of Knik Glac­i­er.

“Weath­er at those high alti­tudes and the cloud deck pre­vent­ed us from get­ting to the air­craft,” Bel­lamy said. “With it get­ting late and the weath­er not improv­ing, we start­ed to look at alter­na­tive means of get­ting help to the peo­ple up there.”

To add to the urgency of the sit­u­a­tion, the peo­ple involved in the air­craft acci­dent do not have sur­vival gear, and fam­i­ly mem­bers said they were wear­ing light cloth­ing when they depart­ed.

At about 10 p.m., a Guardian Angel team –con­sist­ing of com­bat res­cue offi­cer Maj. Jesse Peter­son and parares­cue­men Mas­ter Sgt. Al Lank­ford and Tech. Sgts. Chris Uri­arte and Angel San­tana — was insert­ed at a low­er ele­va­tion to hike to coor­di­nates of the loca­tor bea­con.

“The Guardian Angel team was insert­ed about four miles away from the air­craft site with shel­ter, food and gear,” said 1st. Lt John Romspert, a com­bat res­cue offi­cer with the Alas­ka Air Guard’s 212th Res­cue Squadron.

Using moun­taineer­ing skis and tow­ing sleds full of gear, the Guardian Angel team was the best bet to pro­vide sur­vival gear to the peo­ple at the plane. “We con­tin­ue to have good com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the Guardian Angel team and the air­craft, so even though it’s slow going with the weath­er con­di­tions they’re fac­ing, hope­ful­ly they’ll reach them soon,” Romspert said.

“We’re focused on get­ting our sur­vival experts, the Guardian Angel team, to the dis­tressed crew as quick­ly as pos­si­ble,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles E. “Chuck” Fos­ter, com­man­der of the Alas­ka Air Guard’s 176th Wing, said Aug. 9. “I’m con­fi­dent if they get the gear to them, that their abil­i­ty to sus­tain them in these weath­er con­di­tions is great­ly improved.”

Weath­er con­di­tions on Aug. 8 and Aug. 9, which includ­ed bliz­zard like con­di­tions, cloud cov­er from the ground to 13,000 feet and 70 mph winds, delayed the team’s abil­i­ty to get to the peo­ple, and attempts from the air to get to the dis­tressed crew haven’t worked either, Bel­lamy said.

“We attempt­ed to drop sur­vival gear from the HC-130 and HH-60, but were unable to get the equip­ment to the peo­ple because of the con­di­tions,” he said. “We cur­rent­ly still have crews out there cir­cling the area in the HC-130 and HH-60, wait­ing for a break in the weath­er, but the con­di­tions haven’t improved.”

Yes­ter­day, the Army Guard Black Hawk was sent to the scene, when it slid and rolled on the glac­i­er.

The HH-60 Pave Hawk and HC-130 Her­cules from the Alas­ka Air Nation­al Guard’s 210th, 211th and 212th Res­cue Squadrons were then sent in to recov­er all 12 per­son­nel, includ­ing the three-man Alas­ka Army Guard crew, the four Air Guard parares­cue­men from the Guardian Angel team and the five PA32 crash vic­tims.

Guard offi­cials said the HH-60 recov­ered three of the crash vic­tims and trans­port­ed them to Matanus­ka Region­al Hos­pi­tal in Palmer, Alas­ka. A sec­ond sor­tie was launched to res­cue the remain­ing per­son­nel, but it was unable to reach the crash site due to inclement weath­er. The HH-60 will remain in Palmer to wait for bet­ter weath­er con­di­tions.

The pas­sen­gers of the civil­ian air­craft were report­ed to have suf­fered only minor bruis­es in the crash.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →