The Minnesota National Guard lost contact with the helicopter around 2 p.m., Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens said, adding that the Guard is “working to figure it out.”
“Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our Guardsmen, and our thoughts are with our soldiers and their families at this time,” Heusdens said in a statement.
A Minnesota State Patrol trooper found the helicopter around 4 p.m. near Pearl Lake, according to emergency scanner traffic cited by the St. Cloud Times.
The helicopter had taken off on a maintenance test flight from St. Cloud, about 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis.
The Guard’s base near the St. Cloud Regional Airport has been in operation since 2009, with Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters maintained there.
Gov. Tim Walz canceled a tree-lighting ceremony, and a spokesman said he was in contact with the Guard and monitoring developments from the Capitol. Walz served in the Army National Guard before eventually becoming a schoolteacher and coach.
The St. Cloud Times reported that the Minnesota State Patrol was called to bring in a helicopter to help with the search. A State Patrol Cirrus aircraft, equipped with thermal imaging cameras, is also helping in the search.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.