"They had a loss of power slightly above the trees, but due to the pilots good training, they were able to find a gap in the trees where they could lower the aircraft down," said Sexton
The attack helicopter landed hard, but pilots Michael Mason and Ed Dalsey were able to escape through a front windshield before the chopper caught on fire.
The OH-58D's Kiowa Warriors flown at Fort Bragg are the latest models. They were recently rebuilt with new safety features. Officials say that is a big reason the pilots got out with just bumps and bruises.
The helicopter was participating in an airfield seizure training exercise when it went down at 12:40 a.m. in a wooded area about one kilometer north of the Rhine-Luzon Drop Zone. The aircraft caught fire and crashed to the ground.
The helicopter was flying at treetop level and was providing security for the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. The units had jumped in and were conducting an airfield seizure exercise on the drop zone.
The Kiowa crash is the third mishap this week for military aircraft from North Carolina. Tuesday, an A-10 from Pope Air Force Base crashed into a mountain in Utah. Wednesday, an engine fell of a Pope C130 during a training flight over Robeson County.
"We can never get rid of the risks completely, but we have to train, have to be ready to do that mission," Maj. Gary Tallman of the 82nd Airborne Division said.
Fort Bragg safety officials and members of the 82nd Airborne Division have begun an on-site investigation into the crash.
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