SALT LAKE CITY - Two Black Hawk helicopters were involved in a training accident on Tuesday near a Utah ski resort, officials said — and multiple witnesses to the incident captured the scene on video.
None of those aboard the helicopter nor the dozens of skiers nearby were injured, officials said.
The accident, involving two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, was reported around 9:30 a.m. MST near Mineral Basin at Snowbird ski resort, located just outside of Salt Lake City. The Utah National Guard said in an initial statement that both helicopters were damaged.
Jared Jones, Utah National Guard aviation public affairs officer, said the helicopters had been conducting winter mountain training and were attempting to land in an approved zone just outside of the ski resort, and both experienced white-out conditions.
"As they landed the snow kicked up and the aircraft probably lost sight of the ground," Jones said during a press conference.
A rotor blade separated from the helicopter and struck the second Black Hawk, which was able to make a quick landing, Jones said.
Videos recorded by witnesses showed a huge cloud of snow billowing into the air followed by a loud thud. One of the helicopters was later seen flipped on its side as nearby skiers surveyed the damage.
Snowbird is known as one of the nation’s premier ski and snowboard destinations because of ample snowfall and the variety of terrain. The two UH-60 helicopters crashed in a normally windy canyon on the backside of the resort known for its expert terrain.
Jones said it was routine for pilots to land in difficult areas regardless of weather conditions to prepare for combat, but rare for them to crash. He added that efforts were underway to investigate the incident and to remove the damaged equipment from the mountainside.
"We do train on the edge so that we’re ready for a combat environment anywhere in the world. The crews assume some level of risk. Every time you go fly a helicopter, there’s a little bit of danger involved. I’m just happy everyone is OK," Jones said.
The crash came about a year after two similar helicopter crashes. In January 2021, a UH-60 Blackhawk crashed during a training exercise and killed three in New York. The following month, a similar Black Hawk crash killed three in Boise, Idaho.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.