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Update: Helicopter crash pilots identified; in stable condition at Vanderbilt

Posted on Friday, March 1, 2019 at 8:57 am

Officials at Arista Aviation have identified the pilots injured in a helicopter crash Thursday afternoon.

The pilots are identified as 70-year-old Jack Cook of Ozark, AL, and 69-year-old Larry Cornell of New Brockton, AL. As of this weekend, they were being treated at Vanderbilt University hospital, where they are listed in stable condition.

Both pilots are highly experienced, retired Army Aviators, who have flown the Blackhawk for over 35 years. Cook and Cornell joined Arista in 2015.

The cause of the crash is still unknown. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continue to investigate.

Rich Enderle, Arista’s President and CEO said, “Arista Aviation would like to thank all the first responders, whose quick action saved the lives of our pilots, we will be forever grateful.”

The crash occurred off Cumberland Springs Road in Moore County, just past the intersection with West Lincoln Street/Cobb Hollow Road on Thursday afternoon.

According to Winston Brooks, spokesman for the Tullahoma Police Department, the Coffee County Communications Center received a crash complaint at 3:16 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, from one of the two pilots. Moore County Sheriff’s, fire department and EMS responded quickly, sending multiple units to the crash site.

The Tullahoma Police and Fire departments, along with Coffee County Emergency Medical Services and the Coffee County Emergency Management Agency also responded to the crash.

Moore County Sheriff Tyler Hatfield said Friday morning that, “The FAA is here beginning their investigation. A recovery crew is en route to recover the aircraft as soon as the investigation is complete. We still have units securing the scene and Cumberland Springs from Cobb Hollow to Raysville Road will remain closed until the aircraft is removed.”

In a statement released late Thursday afternoon, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said its investigators and their counterparts from the National Transportation Safety Board, will work together to determine the “probable cause of the accident.”

The helicopter is owned and operated by Arista Aviation Services of Enterprise, AL,  which released a statement Friday morning.

“A HH-60L Black Hawk helicopter being operated by Arista Aviation Services went down in a deserted field Thursday afternoon near Tullahoma Airport in Tennessee. The aircraft was on its way to an annual helicopter industry trade show in Atlanta which begins next week.”

A view of the helicopter crash. Courtesy of Sam Crimm II.

The statement continues:

“Arista has notified and is cooperating with the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board, which will investigate the incident that occurred in degraded weather conditions as the helicopter approached the airport. Arista is also cooperating with local emergency response and law enforcement officials.

“Arista is a FAA part 145 repair station, which is based in Enterprise, Alabama. Arista provides maintenance and modifications to an assortment of rotor wing platforms operated both domestically and internationally for a variety of missions, which include firefighting and construction.”

Tullahoma Police Sgt. Cody Brandon was able to locate on foot the helicopter in a remote location near the western boundary of Coffee County and the eastern boundary of Moore County on private property and relayed the coordinates to the Tullahoma Fire Department.

One pilot was taken to the Tullahoma Airport to be flown by Vanderbilt Life Flight to the hospital for treatment of neck and back injuries. The other pilot was transported by EMS to a hospital for evaluation.