After Multiple Rescue Attempts, All Crew Safe Following Mountaintop Navy Helicopter Crash

MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter lands during a Last Final Flight
An MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter assigned to the “Longhorns” of Helicopter Search and Rescue (SAR) Squadron, lands during a Last Final Flight (LFF), April 9, 2021. (Shannon Renfroe/U.S. Navy)

All four crew members of a Navy MH-60 Knighthawk were safely recovered without injury over the weekend after their helicopter crashed on a California mountain Friday as they searched for a lost hiker.

The crew -- a pilot, co-pilot and two crewmen -- spent the night on the mountaintop where they crashed after a helicopter mission Friday evening was unable to retrieve them. The crashed helicopter was part of the Helicopter Search and Rescue Squadron from Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, known as the Longhorns.

The MH-60, call sign Longhorn 2, crashed at about 5 p.m. that day near Mt. Hogue, California close to the Nevada border and southeast of Yosemite National Park, the Navy said in a Saturday release. The crew was helping search and rescue teams from Mono County, California, as they tried to find the hiker missing in Inyo National Forest, south of Boundary Peak.

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The missing hiker was found alive Saturday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The Navy said the helicopter crashed in rugged terrain at about 11,700 feet above sea level. The crew were able to radio for help after the crash, but the first rescue attempt, by a helicopter also from NAS Fallon, was unsuccessful. It was clear that the crash survivors would have to stay there overnight for another rescue attempt in the morning, and the rescue team dropped supplies to them.

Another MH-60, Longhorn 1, took off from NAS Fallon Saturday morning, but was also unable to rescue the crashed crew, the Navy said. It stayed on scene to coordinate the rescue.

The Navy called in a California Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook from Mather Air Force Base, which dropped off its own search-and-rescue team that found the survivors, and left to refuel. The Chinook, which has better high-altitude performance than the Knighthawk, returned, and by about 2 p.m. the crew of the crashed helicopter was safely aboard.

-- Stephen Losey can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

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