On Tuesday evening, a Black Hawk helicopter with three experienced pilots on board crashed just East of Boise, Idaho in the Danskin Mountains, killing all three pilots. The Idaho National Guard identified them as Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jesse Anderson of Boise, 43, Chief Warrant Officer 3 George “Geoff” Laubhan of Boise, 39, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 of Nampa, 43.
We do know from the aircraft that tried to locate them — that was out at the same time — they tried three different times to do low passes to get to that area, but the fog, the ceiling layer coming down, combined with snow, made it untenable. So, no speculation on what caused the accident, but we do know there was bad weather.
I did know them personally, not only as their commander, but through deployments as well. It leaves a tremendous, indescribable void in our aviation community. We are very close-knit. We don’t have fixed assigned crews, which means each person flies with so many different pilots.Lt. Col. Nicole Washington, who leads Idaho’s 1st Battalion, 183rd Aviation Regiment (Military Times)
The crew took off from Gowen Field in Boise at around 6 p.m. The last contact with the crew was at 7:45 p.m. as the helicopter was due to return to base. The mission was a “routine night training flight” that often passes through the Danskin Mountain area known as Three Point Mountain. Such routine missions take place about 3 times a week in that unit. This time there was no distress call, and it wasn’t until 8 p.m. that the emergency transponder activated – they were notified of the activation by Air Force personnel in Florida, according to Military Times.
The cause of the crash is unknown, but according to the National Guard, both snow and fog were present in the area. This crash is the second National Guard Black Hawk crash in the last two weeks, the other one was in New York. Maj Gen Michael Garshak, Idaho Guard Adjutant General, ordered an immediate halt to all flights until the cause of the crash could be determined.
Search crews finally reached the downed pilots Wednesday morning just after midnight. There were no survivors. Army investigators from Fort Rucker, Alabama, will be investigating the incident.
All three pilots were reportedly highly experienced, with thousands of flight hours between them. Two of the men were instructor pilots. All had been in the National Guard for years, and all of them were fathers.
Anderson 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.
Laubhan, an instructor pilot, had been in the Idaho Army National Guard since 2010. He leaves behind his wife and two children.
Peltzer was a pilot who had served in the Idaho Army National Guard since 2005. He is also survived by a wife and two children.ktvb
Their service histories were not immediately available.
Featured photo: Left – Jesse Anderson, C – George “Geoff” Laubhan, R – Matthew Peltzer
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