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Off-roading isn’t for the faint of heart. Unlike driving on the road, off-road driving can be unpredictable. This is why skill, caution, and the appropriate rig are important when off-roading. A bone-stock Jeep Grand Cherokee got stuck 16 miles down an Alaskan trail where nothing could reach it for rescue except a Black Hawk helicopter. Clearly, this Jeep missed at least one of those three key things when learning how to off-road

A Black Hawk aircraft was needed to rescue a Jeep

Black hawk helicopter taking off
Black Hawk Helicopter | Antony Joseph/U.S. Army via Getty Images

This first-gen Jeep Grand Cherokee was off-road on Knik Glacier Trail—near the community of Butte, Alaska—when the truck stopped making progress. The ill-equipped Grand Cherokee slid off the trail and down into a pool of glacial meltwater. To give you an idea of how tough this trail is, OnX Off-Road – a site that rates off-roading trails based on a set of systematized standards – gave it a 6. Trails rated 1 are the easiest, and trails rated 10 are the hardest, making this a moderately difficult trail. Surely, too tough for a stock Grand Cherokee. That said, the Jeep did make it a decent way down the trail; far enough, at least, to need a helicopter.

The Jeep was too stuck for traditional off-road recovery teams

The world of off-road recovery is serious work. The pros at Elite Towing and Rescue attempted to get the Jeep, but the water was too high for the recovery teams to get there due to heavy rainfall and where the Jeep was. The only option left was to bring in the bird. 

A group called Heli Alaska was brought in to help save the Jeep, but first, the bird had to find it. The first chopper circled the approximate area until they spotted the jacked-up Jeep. Then Heli Alaska called Pioneer Helicopters. These are the people with the UH-60 Black Hawk needed for the job. 

If you go to Pioneer’s website, it’s immediately clear that these folks ain’t playing around. There are multiple options for service, including aircraft salvage up to 4,000 lbs of cargo hauling, firefighting, and personal transportation. 

According to The Drive, representatives of the aviation company said that these helicopters cost $8,250 per hour to charter. The job took about that to complete, which feels fast considering that the chopper had to fly from Big Lake, Alaska, to the stranded Jeep Grand Cherokee “off-roader,” load it up and fly it to a carrier. 

How did the helicopter get the Jeep Grand Cherokee in the air?

1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee in green
1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee | Wikimedia Commons

The helicopter rescuers found two spots to attach straps to in order to lift the Jeep out of the mire. The Jeep was reportedly in the air for a couple of minutes before being set back down to strap the other side. The Jeep dumped water from the glacial pool as it floated through the air. This hasty recovery was all done in an effort to save the owner of the $1,500 Jeep from spending too much money. 

It is a mystery as to why the driver thought the unprepared Jeep Grand Cherokee was going to do well in such a harsh and remote environment. Whatever the reasoning, hopefully, the driver at least gets some off-road tires next time.