Two Marine pilots killed in Arizona chopper training crash

Barracks at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz.
(Cpl. Sabrina Candiaflores / U.S. Marine Corps)

Two Marine pilots died in a helicopter crash during a training mission in southwestern Arizona, Marine Corps officials said Sunday.

The AH-1Z Viper crashed Saturday night while the pilots were conducting a training mission as part of a weapons and tactical instructor course, the Marine Corps said. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Capt. Gabriel Adibe, a Marine Corps spokesman, said the helicopter crashed on the vast Marine Corps Air Station Yuma training grounds, but no additional information was immediately available.

The names of the pilots have not been released pending notification of their families.


The station is about two miles from Yuma, and the 1,300-square-mile training ground is one of the world’s largest military installations.

There have been several fatal crashes involving Marine aircraft near Yuma over the years.

In 1996, a Marine electronic warfare plane went down during a training mission on a gunnery range near the Gila Mountains, about 40 miles east of the Yuma station, killing all four people aboard. The crew was from the Marine base at Cherry Point, N.C., and was training at Yuma.

Two Marine pilots, a crew chief and a Navy corpsman died in a 2007 crash of a search-and-rescue helicopter near the Colorado River during a training mission. The crew members were attached to a headquarters squadron of the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma.


In 2012, seven Marines were killed when an AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter and a UH-1Y Huey utility helicopter collided in midair during a training exercise in a remote area of the Yuma training grounds. The crash site was in the Chocolate Mountains on the California side of the range.