SALT LAKE CITY — Whiteout conditions caused a Black Hawk helicopter pilot to lose sight of where he was trying to land, causing a February crash with another helicopter near a Utah ski resort that resulted in more than $9 million in damages, the Utah Army National Guard said Thursday.
Remarkably, none of the men and women aboard the helicopter or the dozens of skiers nearby at Snowbird Ski Resort were injured.
Investigators chalked up the incident to human error because the pilot couldn't figure out his position and had to rely on aircraft flight instruments, leading the Black Hawk rolling on its side and break its main rotor.
One piece of the rotor flew off and hit the tail rotor of the other helicopter that was nearby in the training exercise, investigators found.
The second pilot managed to land his Black Hawk despite spinning around after being hit. That pilot's actions to safely land his helicopter were described as commendable by investigators.
Both helicopters ended up with major damages estimated at $9.23 million, the report found.
The crash startled skiers and snowboarders taking advantage of post-Presidents Day weekend’s fresh snow and clear skies. They heard the boom and saw a huge cloud of snow billow from the crash site near a chairlift.