Seven Lost In Tower Collision
The Army blames the
crew in the November 29th crash of a UH-60L Blackhawk for their
decision to fly by visual flight rules in poor weather
The crash in foggy weather killed all seven on
board, including Brigadier General Charles B. Allen, who was the
Deputy Chief of the 4th Infantry Division.
The pilots of the aircraft, 32-year-old CWO-2 David H. Gardner,
Jr., and 27-year-old CWO-2 Mark W. Evans, Jr., were killed in the
mishap. Other soldiers killed in the crash were 26-year-old Capt.
Todd T. Christmas, 48-year-old CWO-5 Douglas V. Clapp, and
29-year-old Specialist Richard L. Brown.
"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."
Although completed on Jan 21st, details of the report were
withheld until the victims' family members could be notified of the
findings, according to media reports. The helicopter was on its way
to Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, where those on board were to
inspect vehicles scheduled to be shipped to Iraq.
The Fourth Infantry
Division says its commander, Major General James D. Thurman, has
disciplined the company and battalion commanders of the crew
involved. The Company Commander was relieved of command. Even so,
General Thurman stated "I remain confident in our Aviation
Brigade's sound training programs, the professionalism of our
aviators and in the combat readiness of our aircraft."
Darrell Meachum, southwest regional vice president of the
National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said the pilot
contacted controllers at Waco Regional airport about 15 minutes
after taking off from Fort Hood to request an instrument flight
plan, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The pilot reported he was flying at 800 feet and asked to file
an instrument flight plan, Meachum told the paper. The Waco air
traffic controller requested the helicopter's position and the
pilot said "Standby, sir," but did not call back to provide the
About five minutes later, the helicopter impacted a guy wire of
the 1,800 ft tower leased by KXXV. Unfortunately, the tower lights
had gone out the week before after a lighting storm. The FAA issued
a NOTAM warning pilots of the inoperative lights on the tower.