An Air Force UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter conducted a rescue mission by airlifting a mountain hiker with acute mountain sickness (AMS) Saturday, two days after the crash of an Air Force Black Hawk chopper that killed eight military officers aboard, the military said Sunday.
The chopper from the Chiayi Air Base was dispatched at around 10:49 a.m. in response to a call for help after the male mountain climber was found suffering from AMS in a mountainous area of Hualien County in eastern Taiwan, the Air Force said in a Facebook post. The helicopter picked up the patient and returned to the air base, from where he was transferred to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment, it added.
The Air Force said it continues to carry out emergency rescue missions despite Thursday's crash that killed Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴) and seven others in New Taipei's Wulai District. The Air Force pledged that it will continue to stand by 24/7 for the nation's security and to carry out rescue missions.
The government had previously announced Thursday that it had grounded all of its Black Hawks pending safety checks after the fatal crash. However, an Air Force official told CNA Sunday that the grounding only applies to Black Hawk helicopters conducting routine missions and that the Air Force still has a number of Black Hawks on stand-by mode at all times for emergency rescue missions like the one it conducted Saturday.
Taiwan purchased a total of 60 Black Hawk helicopters from the U.S. in 2010 at a cost of NT$84.67 billion (US$2.82 billion), with 30 assigned to the Army, 15 to the National Airborne Service Corps (NASC) under the interior ministry, and 15 to the Air Force Rescue Group. The NASC lost one that crashed off Orchid Island in 2018 and the Air Force Rescue Group lost the one that crashed Thursday in New Taipei.