‘I cried when I heard about it. The Cobra means so much to the students that she has inspired and the veterans that maintain her,’ Stephen Seymour, executive director of Celebration Freedom Foundation.
On Dec. 14, 2019 a drunk driver caused half a million dollars worth of damage after crashing into Cobra attack helicopter that flew in Vietnam and Desert Storm and was later used by a veteran’s charity, according to police.
The video in this post shows the Cobra after the motorist hit the aircraft (which is named Annie and had been left in a parking lot in Columbia) and was released by South Carolina Highway Patrol.
According to Daily Mail, the driver, Thomas Andrew Anderson, 37, of Harrisburg, North Carolina, was arrested for DUI. There were no injuries.
He ‘thought he was on the expressway by the airport when they were really in a parking area’, according to Trooper David. Anderson is said to have told police that he ‘consumed way too much alcohol’.
‘This is what an impaired driver has done to a multimillion-dollar aircraft. Make sure you have a plan in place if you plan to consume alcohol and for heaven’s sake, don’t be like this guy,’ Trooper David says in the video.
The Cobra was flown by the Celebration Freedom Foundation (CFF), a charity started by retired military leaders in 1999. The helicopter had been seen 100,000 students in visits to 150 local schools since 2014.
Stephen Seymour, executive director of CFF and two-time Purple Heart recipient Seymour, said: ‘He hit the aircraft and steered off the landing gear that she sits on.
‘Annie served in the United State’s army from 1967 to 2001.
‘She did five years in Vietnam. She did the Persian Gulf war and she got taken out by a drunk driver.
‘It’s going to take a lot of hard work from our veterans and our volunteers and it’s going to take a lot of resources to put this aircraft back into the condition where I can get her back out there doing her job.’
He added: ‘I cried when I heard about it. Annie means so much to the students that she has inspired and the veterans that maintain her.’
The aircraft had been on display in front of the office building at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, the CFC said in a release.
The Bell AH-1 Cobra is a two-blade, single-engine attack helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter. It was developed using the engine, transmission and rotor system of the Bell UH-1 Iroquois. A member of the prolific Huey family, the AH-1 is also referred to as the HueyCobra or Snake.
The AH-1 was the backbone of the U.S. Army’s attack helicopter fleet, but has been replaced by the AH-64 Apache in Army service. Upgraded versions continue to fly with the militaries of several other nations. The AH-1 twin-engine versions remain in service with United States Marine Corps (USMC) as the service’s primary attack helicopter.