After report released on fatal Mendon Blackhawk crash, pilot’s mother pleads ‘Make your mistakes in a simulator’

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MENDON, N.Y. – A government investigation report is out on the Blackhawk helicopter crash in Mendon that killed three national guardsmen.

One of the recommendations is something the Army National Guard in Rochester doesn’t have. 

The crash in Mendon happened when the pilots were doing an emergency exercise they were required to practice. The Government Accountability Office or GAO report says the training should be in simulators. But, the Rochester facility doesn’t have any.

READ MORE: Federal report on 2021 helicopter crash in Mendon recommends ways to improve training

“If they need additional dollars in the budget to get the simulators, I will be able to get that as well,” Senator Chuck Schumer said at his zoom press conference Wednesday.

Schumer outlined the major recommendations. Change number one?  More training hours.

“This would significantly reduce human error accidents,” Schumer said.

Change number two? A database of crashes and causes.

“If we could learn the lessons from previous crashes we can go a long way to preventing the next one,” he said.

Change number three? More simulators.

“The Rochester facility currently does not have a simulator,” Schumer said. “And lack of access to simulators is one finding the GAO report states contributes to pilots not meeting training goals.”

Joining us in the zoom conference were parents of the pilots killed in the Mendon crash. Josephine Koch is the mother of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christian Koch.

“And that procedure, like Senator Schumer stated, should never, never have been practiced in the air,” she said. “Make your mistakes in a simulator, for God’s sake.”

Greg Prial is the father of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Prial.

“This is, I think, going to be important going forward and certainly could save lives,” he said. 

The GAO report found 298 military helicopter accidents, not in combat, between 2012 and 2021.