Army Investigators Fault Crew For Crash Of Black Hawk Helicopter

The decision of the pilots to fly under visual flight rules caused the crash of the a 4th Infantry Division UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in November in a field near Bruceville-Eddy.

All seven soldiers aboard the helicopter died in the crash.

Army officials released the results of a collateral investigation of the crash on Tuesday.

The report was completed on Jan. 21, officials said, but could not be released until the families of the dead soldiers had a chance to review the facts and findings.

The helicopter struck a support cable on the 1,800-foot KXXV television tower on Nov. 29 while on a flight to the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana.

“The pilots flew the aircraft primarily under visual flight rules, but encountered instrument meteorological conditions at the time of the impact,” the Army said in a prepared release

“Evidence from the flight path, altitude, air traffic control communications, and weather reports at the time of the accident supported the investigating officer’s conclusions,” the Army said.

Fourth Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen James D. Thurman has disciplined the company and battalion commanders and the company commander has been removed from command as a result of the crash, the Army said Tuesday.

Details of the action were not released.

Thurman expressed confidence in the division’s aviation formation.

“I remain confident in our Aviation Brigade’s sound training programs, the professionalism of our aviators and in the combat readiness of our aircraft,” he said.

“We will continue to train this formation and prepare it for our nation’s call.”

The pilots took off in foggy conditions without filing an instrument flight plan, but then requested an instrument flight plan minutes before the crash.

The Dallas Morning News quoted Darrell Meachum, southwest regional vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, as saying the pilot contacted controllers at Waco Regional airport about 15 minutes after taking off from Fort Hood to request an instrument flight plan.

The pilot reported he was flying at 800 feet and wanted an instrument flight plan, Meachum told the paper.

The Waco airport controller requested the helicopter’s position and the pilot said “Standby, sir,” but did not call back to provide the information, Meachum told the paper.

The helicopter crashed about 5 minutes later.

Fog was reported in the area at the time of the crash and the warning lights on the television station’s transmission tower were not working.

The station said a lightning storm knocked the lights out of commission a week before the crash.

The station had notified the Federal Aviation Administration, which posted a NOTAM, or notice to airmen, advising pilots of the outage.

Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen, 49, and six other 4th Infantry Division soldiers died in the crash.

Allen was an assistant commander of Fort Hood’s 4th Infantry Division who was promoted to brigadier general last year.

Division Support Commander Col. James Moore was also aboard the helicopter.

Click Here For 4th Infantry Division Web Site

Also killed in the crash were 26-year-old Capt. Todd T. Christmas, 48-year-old CWO-5 Douglas V. Clapp, 32-year-old CWO-2 David H. Gardner, Jr., 27-year-old CWO-2 Mark W. Evans, Jr. and 29-year-old Specialist Richard L. Brown.

Gardner and Evans were the pilots of the helicopter.

Christmas was a Texas A&M University graduate who had just returned to Fort Hood after spending the Thanksgiving holiday with his family in New Mexico.

He was a member of A&M’s Corps of Cadets.

Click Here For Fort Hood Web Site

The twin-turbine Blackhawk has been a military workhorse for two decades.

It’s capable of carrying a full 11-member infantry squad in addition to the three-member crew.

Click Here For More Information On The Blackhawk Helicopter From The U.S. Army

Click Here For More Information On The Blackhawk Helicopter From Sikorsky


Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen, 49, assistant division commander for support. Allen, who was born in Alaska and listed his home of record as Oklahoma, entered the Army in May 1977 and received his initial training as a field artillery officer.

Col. James M. Moore, 47, commander of the Division Support Command. A native of Peabody, Mass., he entered the Army in September 1980.

Capt. Todd. T. Christmas, 26, an air defense artillery officer assigned to the division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion. A native of New Mexico, he entered the Army in August 2001.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Douglas V. Clapp, 48, a senior division automotive maintenance officer. Clapp, who was born in Lebanon, Pa., and listed his home of record as Greensboro, N.C., entered the Army in August 1974.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 David H. Gardner Jr., 32, a helicopter pilot assigned to the division's A Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment. Gardner, who was born in Germany and listed Iowa as his home of record, entered the Army in October 1992. Gardner served in Iraq from October 2003 to April 2004.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark W. Evans Jr., 27, a helicopter pilot assigned to A Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment. Evans, who was born in Michigan and listed his home of record as Florida, entered the Army in November 1995. Evans served in Iraq from November 2003 to April 2004.

Spc. Richard L. Brown, 29, a helicopter mechanic assigned to the division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Brown was born in Kansas and listed Stonewall, La., as his home of record. Brown served in Iraq from March 2003 to March 2004.