- HAMBURG, May 24 - Remember the ill-fated Apache helicopter which crashed
in Albania on May 5, killing two American pilots, and casting a pall on
Bill Clinton's and Madeleine Albright's visit to the NATO headquarters
in Brussels? The U.S. military spokesperson in Germany told Reuters at
the time that the aircraft was on a training mission when it crashed.
He speculated the Apache may have hit a power line.
- Commander Tom van Leunen, spokesman for
the U.S. European command in Stuttgart, Germany, said the crash occurred
in darkness some 50 miles north of Tirana. Two pilots became the first
admitted casualties suffered by NATO. Later on, the official line from
the "lie and deny" Washington-Brussels crowd was that the Apache
helicopter crashed due to either mechanical or human errors.
- It didn't. It was probably shot down
by the Yugoslav anti-aircraft defenses, according to a May 23 report in
Germany's "Welt am Sonntag" ("World on Sunday") alleged.
Citing a "secret report" issued by NATO experts, the German paper
said the Apache exploded in the air and went down in a ball of fire. Which
is the main reason the NATO experts had eliminated the mechanical or human
errors as the cause. --- TiM Ed.: The above "Welt am Sonntag"
story rounds out our reports about the Apaches being the "Flying Coffins"
(S99-81, Day 55, Item 1, May 17) and being grounded by mountains (S99-86,
Day 60, Item 4, May 22).
- Now we know why the Washington brass
got cold feet about using the Pentagon's "fearsome," "pride
and joy" high-tech weapon against the Serbs in Kosovo. "Whew...
thank God," must have been the response by the Apaches' pilots and
crews, used to turkey shoots in Iraq.
- The timing of this shoot-down, if that's
what it was, was also conspicuous. Did the Yugoslav military want to deliver
a message to Bill Clinton and his Halfbright armchair bomber, as they landed
for a round of NATO briefings in Brussels on May 5?
- If so, it appears the message was heard.
And heeded. The Apaches are now grounded. Not by mountains, as the British
media tried to spin the story. ---------------