On 9/1//88 the Sikorsky HH-3E #65-12781 with the California Air National Guard, 129th ARRG from Moffett Naval Air station, California was on a local two day search and rescue training mission with the 27th Tactical Air Support Squadron. They departed George Air Force Base at 9:07am to participate in the first exercise scenario, a simulated survivor pick up with an OV-10 Bronco escort. The scenario was conducted in the northwest sector of the 29 Palms Marine Corps Reservation restricted area R-2501N. One OV-10 pilot was on board the helicopter as an observer, another was playing the survivor role on the ground. After a routine pick up, the HH-3E departed the range, returning back to George AFB. While leaving the training area, the aircraft struck a ridge ten feet below the crest. The aircraft became airborne again for 450 feet before impacting the back side of the same ridge. After the second impact, the aircraft rolled to the left and started burning. The impact forces and fire destroyed the aircraft killing all six crew members.
Maj. Terry A. Nelson, pilot
Lt. Col. Leslie E. Spencer, co-pilot
SrA. Steven E. Courtney
SSgt. Steven E. Carlyle
1Lt. James K. Dooley, passenger
1Lt. Patrick L. Henry, passenger