The second Black Hawk helicopter involved in Tuesday night’s training mission landed at Hurlburt Field instead of returning to Destin Executive Airport, where both crews took off, according to Louisiana Army National Guard spokesman Col. Pete Schneider.
Okaloosa County Airports Director Sunil Harman said Destin Executive Airport was unmanned when the helicopters took off, but staff had reports estimating departure times.
“They left between 3 and 4 p.m.,” he said.
Harman said Destin’s airport facility never closes but pointed out that staff members usually leave, rendering the airport unmanned after 10 p.m. However, on March 10, staff left prior to the helicopters’ departure due to the dense fog advisory.
“People with access can come and go 24 hours a day,” Harman said.
“We received a report that caused us to generate our air emergency plan around 9:50 p.m.,” Harman said, adding, “We dispatched our police chief and inspected the airport,” he said, pointing out there were no UH-60s located at the facility. Harman said airport personnel was asked to look for a missing Black Hawk and that the report was closed around 10:45 p.m. after none were found. He said all the vehicles in which the soldiers and marines had arrived were still parked at the facility at that time.