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Army Says Blackhawk Copter ‘Crash-Worthy’

March 15, 1985

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) _ A helicopter that killed 12 servicemen when it crashed at Fort Bragg is ″more crash-worthy″ than any the Army has ever had, despite 23 serious accidents in four years, a Army spokesman said Thursday.

The UH-60 Blackhawk ″is the best utility helicopter we’ve ever had,″ said Maj. Robert Mirelson, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon. ″It’s faster, it has better range, it’s more maneuverable and it’s more crash-worthy ... than anything else we’ve ever had.″

Specialists from the Aviation Safety Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., began investigating the crash Thursday, sifting pieces of the destroyed chopper in a cluster of trees in a remote section of Fort Bragg used for training exercises.

Army officials could take three to four days to remove the wreckage and remains of the four crew and eight paratroopers from the site, said Capt. Pete Eschbach. It could be months before investigators determine the cause of Wednesday afternoon crash.

Pieces of the wreckage, scattered 100 yards in the scrub pine, smoldered through the night Wednesday. The only identifiable wreckage was part of the tail section, which stuck up about four feet from the sandy Hoke County soil.

The crash brought to 23 the number of serious accidents involving Blackhawks since early 1981 when the Army began using the aircraft, said Lt. Col. Tom Jones, a Defense Department spokesman. Jones said 34 people have been killed in previous Blackhawk crashes.

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