Army bans non-crit flyers after fatal crashes


JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Army said Friday it grounded non-critical aviation units for training after 12 people were killed in fatal helicopter crashes in Alaska and Kentucky last month.

The suspension of flight operations was effective immediately, and units were on the ground pending the completion of training, Lt. Col. Terence Kelley, an Army spokesman. For active duty units, training is scheduled to take place between May 1st and 5th. Army National Guard and Reserve units have until May 31 to complete the training.

Two Army helicopters collided near Healy, Alaska on Thursday, killing three soldiers and injuring a fourth. The helicopters were from the 1st Attack Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment based at Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks and were returning from training at the time of the crash, the Army said.

A U.S. Army team from Alabama has headed into interior Alaska to investigate the collision between two AH-64 Apache helicopters.

Not much is known about the crash in the remote interior of the state, 402 kilometers from Anchorage.

The Army says the probe is being conducted by a team from Fort Novosel, which is expected to arrive on Saturday.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AP) — Military investigators headed into interior Alaska on Friday, a day after a mid-air collision between two helicopters killed three soldiers and wounded a fourth.

The Army said Thursday two of the soldiers died at the crash site and a third died on the way to a Fairbanks hospital. A fourth soldier was injured and taken to a hospital. That soldier was in stable condition as of Friday, Pennell said. The names of those killed were not immediately released.

The Army said more details would be released as they became available.

According to Pennell, each AH-64 Apache helicopter was carrying two people at the time of the crash. The helicopters were from the 1st Attack Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment at Fort Wainwright, stationed near Fairbanks.

“This is an incredible loss to the families of these Soldiers, their fellow Soldiers and to the Division,” Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, commanding general of the 11th Airborne Division, said in the Army statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, friends and loved ones and we are committing the full resources of the Army to support them.”

The crash is the second Military helicopter accident in Alaska this year.

In February, two soldiers were injured when An Apache helicopter taxiing after takeoff from Talkeetna. The plane was one of four planes that flew from Fort Wainwright to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

Nine soldiers were killed in March Two US Army Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopters crashed during a routine nighttime training exercise about 50 kilometers northeast of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Healy is a community of about 1,000 people on the Parks Highway in inland Alaska. It’s a popular place for people to spend the night while visiting the nearby park, which is home to Denali, the continent’s tallest mountain.

Healy is also known for being the closest town to the former bus that was abandoned in the backcountry and made famous by the book Into the Wild and film of the same name. The bus was removed and moved to Fairbanks in 2020.

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