It’s unclear what caused a military helicopter to flip upside down onto a runway at the Cheyenne Regional Airport on Wednesday morning.
Chad Brannaman, a former member of the military, saw the crash happen at about 10:30 a.m. near the end of a runway at the northwest corner of the airport property.
Brannaman told Cowboy State Daily that while driving by the airport, he watched as the helicopter took a hard-banked turn at about 100 feet off the ground, which caused it to lose its balance and start heading toward the ground.
At first, Brannaman said he thought the helicopter was performing a combat landing, but then quickly realized it was no drill as the chopper dived toward the ground.
Brannaman said he missed the chopper’s actual point of impact with the ground as some trees obscured his view. When he regained a sightline on the helicopter, it was on the ground and upside down.
“I’m sure it didn’t feel good,” he said.
For about 30 seconds, Brannaman said he feared for the lives of those on board.
“Any time you see something like that it’s pretty scary,” he said.
But then he saw three people emerge from inside and walk away from the helicopter on their own power, allowing Brannaman to issue a sigh of relief.
'A Hard Landing'
Landon Gunsauls, a public information officer for F.E. Warren Air Force Base, confirmed that a UH-1 helicopter had crashed and flipped at the airport Wednesday morning.
He said there were no serious injuries to report and as of the time this story was posted, the crash site was still an active investigation.
In a follow-up press release, the base reports the chopper is part of the 37th Helicopter Squadron at the base and "was conducting routing training and experienced a hard landing.
No fatalities and only non-life-threatening injuries have been reported. The crew is being evaluated at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center."
Only a small trail of smoke emitted from the chopper after it was on the ground, Brannaman said, adding that the response of local firefighters to the crash was shockingly fast.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.