On the night of February 2, 2021, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed south of Lucky Peak outside of Boise, Idaho. Three Idaho Army National Guard soldiers died in the fatal crash. There were no survivors.
The deceased were identified as 43-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jesse Anderson, 39-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 3 George “Geoff” Laubhan, and 43-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Peltzer. All three were pilots participating in a routine training exercise when something went terribly wrong. Investigators will now try and piece together what caused the fatal military helicopter crash.
Victims of Idaho National Guard Crash
According to 183rd Aviation Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Nicole Washington, two of the three Idaho National Guardsmen were instructor pilots and all were very experienced with “thousands of hours” of flight time between them.
CWO 4 Anderson of Boise, Idaho was a senior instructor pilot who had served in the Idaho Army National Guard since 2008. He is survived by his wife and four children.
CWO 3 Laubhan of Boise, Idaho was also an instructor pilot who had served in the Idaho Army National Guard since 2010. Laubhan is survived by his wife and two children.
CWO 3 Peltzer of Nampa, Idaho was a pilot and had served in the Idaho Army National Guard since 2005. Peltzer is survived by his wife and two children.
What Caused the UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter Crash Near Boise?
The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center will conduct an investigation into the cause of the Idaho National Guard helicopter crash. The investigation will likely take six months to a year to complete.
According to reports, the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter departed at approximately 6:50 p.m. local time on a routine flight that was listed as “training in mountainous-area flying with some emergency procedures.” The chopper checked in via radio multiple times during the course of the exercise.
At approximately 7:45 p.m., the flight crew made their last communication noting that they had completed their final maneuver and were returning back to Boise. Officials say the pilots did not issue a mayday call or indicate that anything was wrong.
Roughly 20 minutes later, it became clear that something had gone wrong. The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center reported to the Idaho National Guard that an active emergency transmitter radio signal was coming from the UH-60 Black Hawk.
Emergency response planes were launched but search and rescue was hampered by snow flurries and heavy fog in the area. The Idaho National Guard deployed ground crews to continue the search until the weather improved enough for a search aircraft to return to the area. At approximately 12:15 a.m., officials located the downed Black Hawk helicopter and discovered the bodies of the three deceased Guardsmen.
Second Fatal Black Hawk Helicopter Crash Two Weeks, Four in the Last Seven Months
On January 20, 2021, a New York Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter crashed while on a routine training mission, killing all three soldiers on board. The deceased were identified as Chief Warrant Officers Steven Skoda and Daniel Prial, both of Rochester, New York, and Christian Koch of Honeoye Falls, New York. A preliminary report citing 911 calls noted “sputtering sounds” coming from the engine prior to the crash.
The crashes share several similarities: all involved UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters carrying Army National Guard soldiers on routine training missions.
“It is certainly distressing to see some immediate similarities between these crashes that occurred within such a short amount of time,” says military helicopter crash attorney Timothy A. Loranger. A former Marine with experience working as an aircraft mechanic during his military service, Tim has handled numerous military helicopter crash cases, including Black Hawk crash cases, involving defective design issues, mechanical defects, and maintenance failures.
“In this Idaho crash, the pilots were all skilled and highly experienced with thousands of flying hours amongst them. Why didn’t they issue a mayday call? If something catastrophic went wrong with the aircraft, their experience and skill may not have been enough to avoid disaster. Only a thorough investigation will give these grieving families the answers they deserve.”
According to Loranger, investigators will look for any mechanical issues that may have caused the crash. They will also study the actions of the pilots and look for any maintenance irregularities.
Other Black Hawk Crashes
In November of 2020, a UH-60 Black Hawk military helicopter crashed during a peacekeeping mission in Egypt. The crash killed five U.S. Army soldiers, a French service member, and a Czech service member. According to reports, the crash was caused by a “technical failure.”
In August of 2020, two Army soldiers were killed and three others sustained injuries when a UH-60 Black Hawk crashed near San Clemente Island in California. The Army issued a statement calling the crash an “aircraft mishap.”
In 2019, another crash involving a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter killed three Minnesota National Guardsmen during a routine test flight. A military investigation found that the crash was caused by mechanical defects and human error.
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