Idaho National Guard releases preliminary findings in deadly helicopter crash

Idaho national guardsmen

BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center’s preliminary investigation has found that poor weather conditions and human error caused a UH-60 Black Hawk to crash on February 2, killing three pilots.

According to the Idaho National Guard, weather played a significant role, but the primary cause of the accident was the crew’s inability to successfully complete an emergency landing.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jesse Anderson, 43; Chief Warrant Officer 3 George “Geoff” Laubhan, 39; and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Peltzer, 43, were killed while conducting a routine training flight in a UH-60 Black Hawk near Lucky Peak.

The Idaho National Guard said the preliminary findings of the investigation showed that there were no mechanical factors that contributed to the accident.  The aircraft performed normally and there were no indications that the crew experienced any mechanical issues at any time during the flight.

However, deteriorating weather conditions and decreased visibility due to fog caused the crew to lose visual references to the surrounding mountainous area. The crew was in the clouds and flying with reference to only the aircraft flight instruments, according to the Idaho National Guard.

“We need to train to a level commensurate with how we’re expected to perform,” Idaho Army National Guard state aviation officer Col. Chris Burt said. “As an aviation community, we do our best to implement cautions and controls that will provide the most realistic training without increased risk to our crew members. “

Anderson, a Boise resident, was a senior instructor pilot and had served in the Idaho Army National Guard since 2008. He is survived by his wife and four children. Laubhan, a Boise resident, was an instructor pilot and had served in the Idaho Army National Guard since 2010.  He is survived by his wife and two children. Peltzer, a Nampa resident, was a pilot and had served in the Idaho Army National Guard since 2005. He is survived by his wife and two children.

“The motto of the National Guard is ‘Always Ready, Always There,’”  Burt said. “We will honor Jess, Geoff and Matt by continuing with our mission, because we know that is what they would expect us to do.”

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