Military helicopter crash kills three in training exercise in New York

MENDON, NEW YORK (AP) — Three National Guard members on a training flight were killed on Wednesday when their helicopter crashed in a farmer’s field in western New York.

The craft, a UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter, crashed around 6.30pm in Mendon, New York, a rural town south of Rochester, officials said. The circumstances were under investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would take part.

Photos of the crash scene posted by local news media showed the aircraft wreckage burning on a snow-covered field.

The helicopter flew out of the Army Aviation Support Facility at Rochester International Airport, and was assigned to C Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion, according to New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Public Affairs Director Eric Durr.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said flags on state buildings were lowered to half-staff yesterday to pay tribute to the troops.

“National Guard members are our citizen soldiers who voluntarily serve and protect both here and abroad, and I extend prayers and condolences from New Yorkers to the family, loved ones and fellow soldiers of these honourable heroes,” he said in a statement.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said at a news conference that witnesses who called 911 reported hearing the sounds of an engine sputtering and said the aircraft was flying very low.

There were no survivors of the crash.

Baxter called the three guard members who perished “great Americans”.

“Keep them in your minds and your prayers,” he said.