A Blackhawk pilot on a training mission plunged much of Van Buren County into darkness last week.

About half of Van Buren County lost power for up to 2 1/2 hours Wednesday, March 27.

A crew of three soldiers based out of Camp Robinson in North Little Rock was conducting a routine night-training flight north of Clinton, when their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter’s landing gear clipped power lines at approximately 8 p.m., according to a statement from Camp Robinson.

The contact cut the lines, causing thousands of residents to lose power.

Petit Jean spokesman Dale Smith said most customers lost power around 8 p.m. due to a fault on a 161,000 volt transmission line owned by Entergy. This line supplies power to all 11 of Petit Jean’s substations, Smith said.

Petit Jean service crews inspected their equipment and lines that are supplied by the main transmission line and determined the problem to be somewhere on Entergy’s main line

Smith said it was about 10 p.m. before Petit Jean received a report that a helicopter had made contact with a transmission line somewhere north of the Clinton airport, but crews were unable to confirm the report at the time.

More than 19,000 members were affected for various lengths of time. The shortest duration of outage time was about five minutes for those to the south and southeast parts of the system.

About 8,000 members east, north, west, and southwest of Clinton were out for about two and a half hours.

Camp Robinson’s statement said no personnel were injured in the accident, and that the accident remains under investigation.