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Cause of Minnesota National Guard helicopter crash that killed 3 revealed

The findings of a crash investigation have been released.
James A. Rogers Jr. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles P. Nord Sergeant Kort M. Plantenberg.

An investigation into a helicopter crash that killed three members of the Minnesota National Guard has found that human error and engine failure were among the factors in the tragedy.

A summary of the findings from a military investigation into the Dec. 5 crash near St. Cloud was released Wednesday, and found that among other reasons, the incorrect installation of the hydromechanical unit (HMU) caused the failure of the Black Hawk Helicopter's Number 1 engine.

It also found that an inspection of the HMU was not completed according to guidelines prior to flight, with National Guard leaders said to have not "adequately assessed the technical inspector's ability to perform his duties while he was pending administrative action."

Furthermore, it cited human error from the maintenance test pilot, who "failed to respond to a critical situation during a maintenance maneuver," while the pilot on the controls "failed to execute an autorotative descent and landing."

Killed in the crash were Sgt. Kort M. Plantenberg, 28, of Avon; Chief Warrant Officer 2 James A. Rogers Jr., 28, of Winsted; and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Charles P. Nord, 30, of Perham.

The respective positions of each member on the flight in question is not detailed in the crash summary.

"It is critical for us to determine what caused this tragic loss of life — not so that we can place blame, but so that we can do everything possible to ensure nothing like this ever happens again,” said Brig. Gen. Sandy Best, interim adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard.

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