Helo Rescue Goes Awry on Mount Hood

 - April 18, 2008, 6:30 AM

Attempting to rescue injured climbers on Oregon’s highest peak in an accident that left three dead, a Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk search-and-rescue Black Hawk assigned to the Air Force Reserve’s 304th Rescue Squadron crashed just 800 ft shy of the summit of 11,240-ft Mount Hood on May 30. At that height, the Pave Hawk was operating very near its 11,540-ft IGE maximum power hover ceiling. The helicopter was manuevering to pick up a hiker on its sling when the big helo began to assume a nose-down attitude above the steep and snowy slope. A local Portland, Ore. TV station captured the entire sequence on video as the Pave Hawk then hit the slope, shattering its main and tail rotor on the ice and rock surface. The fuselage then rolled nearly 1,000 ft down the mountain, tossing three of the six crewmembers aboard free of the wreckage. The men were injured, but only one was reported in serious condition. The Black Hawk was preparing to winch an injured climber aboard when control was lost; an alert crewmember detached the cable just in time. Days later the wreckage of the Black Hawk had been airlifted from the mountain. An investigation is continuing.