Army copters make unexpected landing

Published 6:00 am Thursday, January 29, 2009

When a resident on West Lincoln Road called the Lincoln CountySheriff’s Department saying four big black helicopters were landingin her cow pasture, authorities weren’t sure what to think.

Post One Constable Kelly Porter, Lincoln County Sheriff’sDepartment Lt. Randy Belcher, and Deputy Kirby Ebbers responded tothe call and found the four helicopters in a field at 1977 WestLincoln Road, just before the Bogue Chitto Road intersection. Theproperty owner’s name was not available.

Ebbers said he took the initial complaint of the helicopters inthe cow pasture, and the peculiarity of the call set his mind toracing.

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“Any time you get one of these calls it’s a littlenerve-wracking because you don’t know what you’re going to bedealing with, when it’s helicopters you don’t know what to expect,”Ebbers said. “You’ve got all kinds of thoughts in your head of whatyou’re going to do, how you’re going to react, who’s going to backme up?”

But when he arrived on the scene, he found three U.S. ArmyApache helicopters and a Blackhawk, which had been forced to landbecause of bad visibility. Porter said the Army personnel told himthey were leaving Fort Polk Joint Readiness Training Center andwere just trying to get home to Ft. Bragg, N.C.

“They told us they had been doing combat training in Louisianaand were headed back home to North Carolina,” Porter said.

Ebbers said three other Apaches had been forced to land in othernearby fields, but he never saw them himself.

Belcher said the copters were carrying high-tech weaponry, andthat it was a chance for he, Ebbers and Porter to see up close theadvanced technology the Army is using these days.

“They were nice,” he said of the helicopters. “Everything hadlasers. They were telling us the rocket launchers could hit deadon, like if you’re shooting at a car and you want to hit the door,you can actually hit the door from three miles away. It was prettyneat.”

Porter said the Apaches were equipped with 30-millimeter machineguns as well as rocket launchers and anti-missile flares.

“There were sensors on every side,” he said.

The local officers said they had a chance to talk with thevisitors, but didn’t really get to catch their names or much otherpersonal information.

“It was an interesting call,” Ebbers said. “It definitely got alittle adrenaline flowing.”