Listen to Skiers Curse in Shock as 2 Utah Black Hawks Crash at Snowbird

February 23, 2022Hannah Ray Lambert
Utah Black Hawk

Two Utah National Guard Black Hawk helicopters were involved in a training accident just outside the boundaries of Snowbird Ski Resort Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. No one was injured, but the Utah National Guard has suspended all training flights until further notice while it reviews safety protocols. Photo courtesy of Cory Inman/Twitter.

Skiers in Utah whipped out their phones Tuesday, Feb. 22, for a chance to record two Utah National Guard Black Hawk helicopters flying through the peaks and valleys around Snowbird Ski Resort.

Nearly all reacted in shock as the helicopters disappeared into a “whiteout” cloud kicked up by their own rotors and then appeared to crash onto the slopes.

Videos posted to social media in the hours after the incident captured both the mishap itself and the shocked curses it elicited from skiers.

“They crashed! They fucking crashed,” a man observing the scene from a ski lift tells his buddy in one of the many videos of the accident shared online. “No way, dude.”

“Shit,” his buddy adds a moment later.

None of the crew members — nor any of the dozens of skiers nearby — were injured, according to authorities.

Utah National Guard spokesman Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jared Jones said the incident happened around 9:30 a.m. during a standard winter training exercise on US Forest Service land about 150 yards from Snowbird Ski Resort. The incident is under investigation, but during a press briefing later Tuesday, Jones said fresh overnight snow had “kicked up” as the Black Hawks went in for their landings, and the pilots had “probably lost sight of the ground.”

Jones said that, based on his observations of videos of the incident, it appeared the first helicopter had crashed, snapping off its rotor blades. A piece of that helicopter’s main rotor blade, Jones said, appeared to have then struck the second helicopter, forcing it down.

“Whiteouts” are common hazards for helicopters hovering or flying low in mountains and over other snowy terrains, particularly with fresh powder-type snow. Pilots can become disoriented as clouds of snow kicked up by rotor wash envelop the aircraft. The phenomenon is akin to the “brownouts” that plagued US helicopters for two decades in the desertlike conditions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The helicopters’ crew members transported themselves to the base of the mountain using the resort’s tram.

Another video was shot by Maj. Tom Carney, a retired Air Force flight nurse, as he and his friend Cory Inman paused at a high spot on the ski slopes to watch the helicopters, which were well below them. Then, a boom echoed through the canyon in the Mineral Basin area. 

“Oh, that one just crashed. Holy shit, it just crashed,” one of the men says.

Skiers in another video appeared to initially laugh at the massive clouds of snow being stirred up by the Black Hawks, but the chortles morph into a gasps of “holy shit” when the first helicopter hits the ground.

According to local media, the Utah National Guard has canceled all training flights until further notice so it can review safety protocols and regulations. 

“Aviation is an inherently dangerous business, and we train to a high standard,” Jones said. “We do train on that edge so that we’re ready for a combat environment anywhere in the world. And the crew assume some level of risk. Every time you go fly a helicopter, there’s a little bit of danger involved. I’m just happy that everyone is okay.”

Read Next: Did Two AFSOC Ospreys Fly a Midnight Mission To Evacuate Ukraine Diplomats?

Hannah Ray Lambert
Hannah Ray Lambert

Hannah Ray Lambert is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die who previously covered everything from murder trials to high school trap shooting teams. She spent several months getting tear gassed during the 2020-2021 civil unrest in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not working, Hannah enjoys hiking, reading, and talking about authors and books on her podcast Between Lewis and Lovecraft.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Curtis LeMay
Curtis LeMay: The World War II General Who Firebombed Japan

Who exactly was Gen. Curtis LeMay? And how did he become the commander who razed more than 60 Japanese cities during World War II?

eric smith marine corps commandant nominee
Highly Decorated Marine Officer Nominated To Be Next Commandant

President Joe Biden has nominated a highly decorated Marine officer who has been involved in the transformation of the force to be the next Marine Corps commandant.

USS Arizona
Profile of a Ship: USS Arizona

When the USS Arizona sank, it took 1,177 crew members with it. Today it remains beneath the water as a memorial to all those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor.

b1 bombers bosnia
US Bombers Fly Over Bosnia in Sign of Support Amid Continued Secessionist Threats

A pair of U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flew low over Sarajevo and several other Bosnian cities...

SR-71 Blackbird
SR-71 Blackbird: The Spy Plane That Could Outrun Missiles

Lockheed Martin’s SR-71 Blackbird was a government secret for years. Now retired, a newer version plans to take its place.

medal of honor recipient remains returned
Missing 73 Years, Medal of Honor Recipient's Remains Return To Georgia

Soldiers of the 9th Infantry Regiment made a desperate retreat as North Korean troops closed in arou...

dear jack
Dear Jack: My Battalion Is Out of Control

In this installment of “Dear Jack,” Marine veteran and amateur life coach Jack Mandaville advises a lieutenant colonel on how to restore order in the lower ranks.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
  • Request a Correction
  • Write for Us
  • General Inquiries
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved