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US Air Force Helicopter Crew Members Hurt in Nevada Crash

Air commodore Syed Muhammad Ali of the Pakistan Air Force in Islamabad compared the exercise to the Olympics for air forces

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    File image of an USAF HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter of the same type as one which crashed in Nevada on August, 18, 2016.

    Four U.S. Air Force helicopter crew members hurt in a crash during an international combat training exercise in Nevada were part of a unit on assignment from Moody Air Force base in Georgia, officials said Friday.

    The crew members were treated at a Las Vegas hospital for injuries that their commander said weren't believed to be life-threatening after the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from Nellis Air Force Base went down during a Thursday night practice mission.

    The helicopter was from the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis, where a base spokesman, Senior Airman Timothy Young, said participants in ongoing "red flag" combat training exercises are from the U.S., Israel, Pakistan, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.

    Air commodore Syed Muhammad Ali of the Pakistan Air Force in Islamabad compared the exercise to the Olympics for air forces.

    Sean Rayford/Getty Images

    The 55th Fighter Squadron from Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina also was taking part in the exercise, said Senior Airman Michael Cossaboom, a spokesman at Shaw. 

    The crash happened at an undisclosed location on the Nevada Test and Training Range, a vast area with more than 5,000 square miles of air space restricted to military operations. 

    "Our first priority was to make sure the aircrew were safe," Col. Thomas Kunkel, commander of the 23rd Wing from Moody, said in a statement. "I am relieved that were no life-threatening injuries."

    Kunkel said a board of officers will investigate the crash and determine the cause. The statement promised more information about the incident would be made public "as it becomes available."

    The helicopter crash came less than 15 hours after a civilian contractor pilot ejected from an A-4 Skyhawk jet that crashed a short distance from runways at Nellis, about 15 miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas.

    The jet pilot, an employee of Draken International based in Lakeland, Florida, wasn't seriously hurt. Officials said he was treated for minor injuries and released from the Nellis base hospital. His name hasn't been made public.

    He had been role-playing as an opposition pilot during an exercise as part of a six-month training school at Nellis, a company official said. The jet was destroyed.

    That crash is being investigated by the military and the National Transportation Safety Board because it involved a civilian aircraft crash on public land.

    Nellis hosts a graduate-level U.S. Air Force weapons school and also serves as home to the Thunderbirds air demonstration team.

    The base is best known internationally as host of periodic "red flag" and "green flag" training exercises for pilots from the U.S. and allies to conduct mock battles over a restricted military reserve half the size of the state of New Jersey.

    The 66th Rescue Squadron trains for quick-response expeditionary and combat search-and-rescue operations.