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Helicopter crashes at Navy missile facility in Hawaii – 4 dead

A Sikorsky S-61N, belonging to British International Helicopter Services lands on aboard the U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG-69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Justin L. Ailes/Released)
February 23, 2022

A helicopter crashed at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) in Hawaii on Tuesday, killing all four people on board.

PMRF confirmed the crash in a statement provided to CBS News on Tuesday evening. The U.S. Navy missile test facility said there were no survivors from the helicopter crew. The names of the deceased crew have not yet been revealed.

The helicopter belonged to Croman Corporation, a contractor service that provides “range support services” to PMRF.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) identified the helicopter involved in Tuesday’s crash as a Sikorsky S-61N.

The exact cause of the crash is not yet known and NTSB is investigating the accident.

PMRF is located on the southwest side of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. PMRF is the world’s largest instrumented multi-environmental missile testing and training range. The facility conducts tests of surface, subsurface, air, and space systems. Missiles at the facility can be launched out into the ocean, where PMRF maintains over 1,100 square miles of instrumented underwater range and over 42,000 square miles of controlled airspace.

The Sikorsky S-61N is a civilian variant of the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King used by the U.S. Navy from the 1960s until 2006. The S-61N is commonly used for its heavy lifting capabilities and is widely used for helicopter airline services and offshore oil rig support.

Croman Corporation provides a range of services with different S-61 helicopters variant, including seven standard S-61N and six other restricted S-61 variants. In addition to providing support services for the Department of Defense, the company uses its heavy-lift helicopters for aerial firefighting, aerial timber harvesting, cargo delivery, aerial support for HVAC, power-line and ski-lift installations and other specialized projects.

The fatal crash in Hawaii came on the same day a pair of Utah National Guard Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters crashed near the Snowbird ski resort. That crash took place as the pair of helicopters were conducting winter mountain training.

Utah National Guard officials believe that as the lead helicopter came in for a landing it kicked up too much snow and lost visibility with the ground and impacted. As the first helicopter crashed, a piece of the rotor blade separated and struck the second helicopter, causing it to also come in for a hard landing.

All crew members on the pair of Utah National Guard helicopters survived the crashes and they were able to take the ski tram to the ski resort where they were received by resort staff. The helicopters came down in a designated training area located about 150 yards from Snowbird property.