COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina aviation foundation is trying to raise money to repair a historic Vietnam War-era attack helicopter after the State Highway Patrol accused a man of crashing into it while driving drunk.
The man behind the wheel was arrested for driving under the influence, a Highway Patrol community relations officer confirmed on Twitter. The driver was near the Columbia Metropolitan Airport after midnight when he mistakenly took an access road and hit the 1967 AH-1F helicopter, which was parked outside of a building on a dead-end street, the officer said. The man told police he “consumed way too much alcohol” and was trying to get to the interstate, the Celebrate Freedom Foundation said in a statement.
The foundation says the 53-year-old chopper sustained around $6.6 million worth of damage . Insurance won’t come close to covering the repairs, said Lori Wicker, the director of the organization’s student program.
The aircraft was used to teach students about science, technology, engineering and math. It was restored and decoratively painted and had been put out as a Christmas display on Dec. 14 when it was struck, Wicker said. The helicopter is one of six that the organization has renovated to educate students and the public. Veterans and active-duty soldiers volunteer to do the renovations on the donated aircraft.