A Utah Army National Guard helicopter scouring canyons for marijuana fields near the Weber River knocked out electrical service when it clipped a power line Tuesday morning.
The chopper was one of two UH-1H "Hueys" flying through a narrow canyon on the river about four miles east of Morgan when it flew into the line at about 11 a.m.None of the five occupants was injured. "The crew initiated an immediate precautionary landing and landed the aircraft without difficulty," said Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Bob Nelson.
The wire slid up across the windshield and was cut by a wire cutter on top of the cabin in front of the helicopter's rotor assembly, said Col. Robert Mabey, commander of the West Jordan-based 211th Aviation Group.
Wire cutters are also fitted to the bottom of military helicopter cabins to keep wires from catching on the landing skids. Mabey said the cutters were installed on all military helicopters about seven years ago because of accidents in Europe. "That's the first wire we've hit and I'm happy to know (the wire cutter) worked," he said.
The aircraft remained grounded in the area until it could be inspected and certified as airworthy. It returned to West Jordan later Tuesday.
The incident knocked out electricity from Mountain Green to Devils Slide for about an hour, said Lynn Ellis, a Utah Power & Light dispatch supervisor in Ogden.
Guard helicopters routinely fly during summer months in support of state-sponsored drug interdiction programs, said Utah Public Safety Department spokesman Gary Whitney. Bureau of Land Management and Morgan County officers were on board with the two-member military crew at the time of the mishap.
The drug interdiction flying season ends for the year Thursday, Whitney said.