Video has been provided to AerialFire Magazine by a confidential source showing the Firehawk Helicopters UH-60A Black Hawk in flight over Leesburg Airport just minutes before the fatal crash of the aircraft that claimed the lives of all four crew members onboard the aircraft.
The helicopter is believed to be registered as N9FH, a 1981 model 60A with a manufacturers serial of 80-23461. The manufacturer is listed as BHI helicopters, which is believed to be a subsidiary company connected to Firehawk helicopters, issued experimental certification in 2015 according to the FAA database.
The aircraft shown in the video shows a snorkel swinging in a pendulum motion from the right side of the aircraft as it approaches the airport before it passes from view behind a palm tree. A snorkel system is commonly used on both internal and external tank systems installed in various other UH-60 aircraft used in aerial firefighting operations.
According to the source, who wishes not to be identified, the aircraft crashed just two minutes after the end of the video. N9FH was an aircraft that was seen in service recently in Australia, working with the Queensland Fire Service during the Australian fire season as recently as this year.
The aircraft crashed on May 25th, at approximately 4pm in an accident that has stunned the aerial firefighting industry after initial reports stated that the tail of the aircraft became separated from the main body of the aircraft, landing near the end of runway 31 at Leesburg Airport, which is also the home of the operator of the helicopter, Firehawk Helicopters.
The main section of the helicopter then landed in a dense swamp area, triggering a post crash fire that burned for several hours, complicating rescue and recovery efforts, which are believed to be complete at the time of publishing. Reports have stated that the NTSB will be moving the wreckage of the aircraft to Jacksonville for further investigation into the crash.