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4 injured in Air Force helicopter crash at Nevada training range

A Pave Hawk rescue helicopter from Nellis Air Force Base crashed during a nighttime training mission Thursday at the Nevada Test and Training Range, base officials said.

Four crew members from the Air Force HH-60 helicopter “were transported to a local medical facility and are receiving treatment for minor injuries,” Nellis public affairs officials said in a statement early Friday.

The crash at 10 p.m. Thursday was in an undisclosed location in a remote part on the 2.9-million-acre military range north of Las Vegas. It was the second accident in less than 24 hours involving aircraft participating in training exercises from the Nellis base.

“They are not related as far as we can tell,” Nellis spokeswoman Lea Greene said.

At 7:40 a.m. Thursday, a Vietnam War-era attack jet operated by a military contractor crashed about a mile from the base on a private lot near Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the northeast Las Vegas Valley. The pilot ejected and survived with nonlife-threatening injuries. No one on the ground was injured when the aircraft hit a cinder block wall and caught fire.

Nellis officials said the helicopter that crashed Thursday night is assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron, a detached unit of the 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

Although Nellis officials would not confirm the crash site location or release other information Friday in response to a Review-Journal query, organizers of the Best in the Desert “Vegas to Reno” off-road race said in a Facebook post that the helicopter “went down on the course.”

As such, competitors in the 634-mile race that ends Saturday were told to avoid an area between two designated pit stops northeast of Hiko in Lincoln County before the route enters Basin and Range National Monument.

The jet that crashed Thursday morning was a Douglas A-4K Skyhawk. It was one of 10 of the A-4 jets at Nellis owned and operated by Draken International to portray adversaries in Air Force Weapons School and Red Flag air combat exercises.

It was returning from a mission over the Nellis range with another A-4 Skyhawk jet and was circling to land at the base when it went down.

The Air Force is conducting safety investigations into both accidents and the National Transportation Safety Board is involved in the A-4 jet crash probe.

The most tragic training accident involving rescue helicopters from Nellis Air Force Base occurred Sept. 4, 1998, when two Pave Hawks collided during a nighttime exercise 70 miles north of the base, killing 12 airmen, six in each helicopter.

Contact Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308. Find him on Twitter: @KeithRogers2

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