Foamy mess: Black Hawk helicopters buried at National Guard hangar

Say what you want about the fire-suppression system at the Oklahoma National Guard aviation facility in Tulsa — it definitely works quickly.

Contractors and soldiers there were caught by surprise on Tuesday when a contractor with the fire security company SimplexGrinnell accidentally deployed a three-month-old fire suppression system in a hangar holding UH-60 Black Hawk military helicopters, said Army Col. Max Moss. Within seconds, the hangar was overwhelmed with foam, and it spilled out onto a nearby flight line afterward.

Photographs and video of the scene shows numerous Black Hawks buried in the white, fluffy foam — both in and out of the hangar. Each helicopter is 65 feet long and about 10 feet tall at its highest point, the tail rotor.


UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters owned by the Oklahoma National Guard were accidentally buried in fire-suppression foam in Tulsa on Tuesday. (Image taken from News 6 video provided to The Washington Post)

Moss said Tuesday that the hangar had at least six Black Hawks in it when the fire suppression system deployed, and others outside also were affected by the foam. The aircraft weren’t damaged, and six of the 10 affected have been cleared to fly again.

“We were surprised by the accidental activation of the system, but I think it was educational to those working on those aircraft every day to see how effectively that foam deploys,” Moss said.

Video of the hangar published by KOTV News 6 shows it rapidly filling. It took the contractor about three hours to clean up the mess, Moss said.

Dan Lamothe covers national security for The Washington Post and anchors its military blog, Checkpoint.
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Dan Lamothe · August 27