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Colt #7301 (?) & 1974 White House Huey Shoot Down


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#1 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 09 April 2019 - 02:12 PM

PUBLIC REPORT

OF THE

WHITE HOUSE SECURITY REVIEW

Air Incursions and Attempted Air Incursions:

 

On February 17, 1974, Robert Preston, a private in the Army, stole an Army helicopter from Fort Meade, Maryland, and flew it to the White House Complex. He passed over the Executive Mansion and then returned to the south grounds, where he hovered for about 6 minutes and touched down briefly approximately 150 feet from the West Wing. Members of the EPS did not know who was piloting the aircraft and were not aware that it had been stolen from Fort Meade. They made no attempt to shoot down the helicopter.

Preston left the area of the White House and flew the helicopter back toward Fort Meade. He was chased by two Maryland State Police helicopters, one of which he forced down through his erratic maneuvers. Preston then returned to the White House Complex. As he lowered himself to about 30 feet above the south grounds, EPS officers barraged the helicopter with shotgun and submachine gunfire. Preston immediately set the riddled aircraft down. He was injured slightly.

https://fas.org/irp/agency/ustreas/usss/t1pubrpt.html 

 

This may add to the already impressive history of Colt TSMG #7301 (S/N XO 1934) as related in the SAR article below.  Agent Arthur L. Godfrey, who registered the Colt TSMG during the 1968 amnesty period,  retired from the White House Presidential Protective Division U.S. Secret Service  in July, 1974. How many other TSMGs were present on the White House grounds February, 1974 is unknown. 

 

http://www.smallarms...idarticles=1938

 

and in a 2007 thread

http://www.machinegu...7301#entry70746

 

"The Time a Stolen Helicopter Landed on the White House Lawn
The story of Robert Preston’s wild ride"

https://www.airspace...ride-180962400/

Attached File  Robert Preston Huey 1974 color.jpeg   71.39K   32 downloads Attached File  Robert Preston Bell Huey 1974.jpg   59.99K   34 downloads 

Today the helicopter sits on static display at Joint Base Willow Grove in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where the Guard trained

Attached File  Robert Preston Huey.jpg   124.65K   38 downloads

Preston & his lawyer Moncier.  Captain in the Army JAG Corps Herbert S. Moncier said 360 rounds were fired at the Huey from automatic weapons.

Attached File  Robert Preston & Lawyer.jpg   124.53K   29 downloads

 

 


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#2 jim c 351

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Posted 09 April 2019 - 02:43 PM

Sounds like Pvt. Preston was quite a capable helicopter pilot.

Could have used him in VN.

Hopefully, when he got out of prison, the Army promoted him to W2 and assigned him to the Air Cav.

Failing that, perhaps the CIA could have used him in Laos, with Air America.

 

Jim C


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#3 Bob

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Posted 09 April 2019 - 06:52 PM

https://www.findagra...kenneth-preston

 

Never did much after is 15 min of glory...


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#4 RoscoeTurner

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Posted 09 April 2019 - 07:10 PM

https://www.findagra...kenneth-preston

 

Never did much after is 15 min of glory...


He did gain lasting fame in a twisted sort of way, he is the reason all Army aircraft were outfitted with ignition keys following that event.  Before this all you had to do was hit the battery switch, turn the fuel on and pull the start trigger on a UH1.


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#5 jim c 351

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 11:58 AM

Roscoe,

I'll bet the ignition key thing pretty much stopped privates from stealing copters.

However I can visualize a scenario where a Army base comes under attack and the pilots are ordered airborne, as soon as they find their keys.

Jim C


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#6 RoscoeTurner

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 01:44 PM

Roscoe,

I'll bet the ignition key thing pretty much stopped privates from stealing copters.

However I can visualize a scenario where a Army base comes under attack and the pilots are ordered airborne, as soon as they find their keys.

Jim C

 

When I was in El Salvador in the 80s all our aircraft were hot wired to by pass the key. 

What you describe has little chance of becoming reality, aircraft on standby are preflighted, armed, engine covers removed with only the blade tie downs to be removed before start.  Each unit has it's own SOP on how this is done but that is generally the way it is handled.


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#7 richard w.

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 02:03 PM

"After two more months in military prison, Preston was released, underwent retraining, and given a general discharge."

A General Discharge?

Unbelievable. It's the same way today. The military often seems reluctant to give anyone a Dishonorable or Bad Conduct discharge.
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#8 jim c 351

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 02:37 PM

Rich,

Its not like he took the chopper home, he just moved it from one government building to another.

It was the Secret service that shot it full of holes.

Jim C


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#9 cbmott

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Posted 10 April 2019 - 11:32 PM

Moral of the story is that the Secret Service needs more Thompsons. My buddy flies Blackhawks around DC and said they have keys as well and referenced this story. I doubt the Patriot Batteries or alert fighters would let similar shenanigans happen these days but there’s always an idiot willing to try.
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#10 67ray

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Posted 11 April 2019 - 09:03 AM

Don't see any evidence this Thompson was used in either St. Valentine's Day Massacre nor the 1974 Huey landing at the White House.  It is like the Kennedy conspiracy theory story!

 

The Huey WH landing is a great story though.


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#11 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 13 April 2019 - 01:31 PM

Don't see any evidence this Thompson was used in either St. Valentine's Day Massacre nor the 1974 Huey landing at the White House.  It is like the Kennedy conspiracy theory story!

 

The Huey WH landing is a great story though.

Not sure how connecting a firearm to an historical event is conspiratorial.  Inanimate objects are usually exempt from cover-ups.  Is there evidence beyond a reasonable doubt?  Not as presented in public documents.  But there is strong circumstantial evidence for #7301 being involved in both historical events and that moves it beyond fanciful  musings.  As far as recorded serial numbers of weapons fired by White House Secret Service at the chopper, that information would  be included in the military criminal case against Preston. The only type of submachine guns in the Secret Service armory in 1974 were TSMGs.  The public report doesn't state how many submachine guns were employed.  We know that Agent Arthur L. Godfrey was still  assigned to White House protection in 1974 and #7301 was registered by Godfrey in 1968.  


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#12 Merry Ploughboy

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Posted 13 April 2019 - 02:05 PM

I thought that the Secret Service had M16s by 1974 (to be a bit pedantic, not a rifle marked 'M16', but the same type of Colt firearm).  One of the JFK assassination theories is that 'the third bullet' that killed JFK was an accidental discharge performed by a Secret Service agent mishandling an M16.  The gun was new to the Secret Service in November, 1963 so the Secret Service covered up the fact that an agent who had not been properly trained was the accidental, but actual assassin.


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#13 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 13 April 2019 - 03:18 PM

I thought that the Secret Service had M16s by 1974 ...

 

 But the  report of the White House  Secret Service Huey shoot down only mentions shotguns and submachine gun(s) specifically.  The first time a Secret Service agent was photographed with their TSMG replacement,  the Uzi smg, was Robert Wanko during the  Hinckley attempted assassination of  Reagan in March, 1981.

 

Secret Service Special Agent George Warren Hickey Jr with AR-15 circa 1963.

Attached File  Secret Service Special Agent George Warren Hickey Jr with AR-15 .jpg   36.06K   8 downloads


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#14 Merry Ploughboy

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Posted 13 April 2019 - 03:41 PM

Thanks for posting the '63 vintage photo of Agent Hickey.

 

Having had incorrect stuff written in the media about me at least twice that I'm aware of, I don't trust the media to get anything right.  Further, there have been countless accounts of the media misidentifying firearms.  And possibly for OPSEC reasons, the Secret Service did not want it known that the WH agents had M16s or who knows what else available to counter terrorist attacks.  I don't think we'll ever know for sure.


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#15 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 13 April 2019 - 04:13 PM

Having had incorrect stuff written in the media about me at least twice that I'm aware of, I don't trust the media to get anything right. 

 No denying the media's ignorance regarding firearms. However,  the report I cited was not reliant upon media accounts,  but used The President's House (White House Historical Association, Washington, D.C., 1986),  The Congressional Record, and first-person account of the Preston incident provided by Maryland State Police First Sergeant (ret.) Louis W. Saffran.  Even the public photos of the incident are taken the following morning from outside the White House fence. When the media finally showed up,  all they managed to film was the Huey, still operational after being punctured with holes,  being flown back to Ft. Meade.


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#16 Frenchkat

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 11:08 AM

I had just joined the Army after failing to get into flight school and this had my attention for awhile, I remember that Preston had been busted out of flight training and he wanted to show everyone he really could fly.

As stated before, this started the ignition key, b/s.

I finally got to flight school and was an Air Cavalry squadron Flight Ops Officer my last two years on active duty. Our squadron did the Bosnia thing in 97/98. Flew our a/c to Brownsville, TX for shipment to Germany. Keys and log books were to go with the a/c on the boat.

Some dumbass decided to pull all the keys and secure them back at the Flight Ops office. I didn’t know anything about it until the a/c started getting unloaded off the boat.

Talk about a pain in the ass to get keys for 30 aircraft shipped to Germany and through customs.

Curses to Preston for all the key problems that have plagued Army Avaitors in the last almost 50 years,
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#17 jim c 351

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 07:12 PM

Frenchkat,

Very interesting and thanks for your addition to the story.

Do you happen to know the reason Preston got busted out of flight training ?? Was he just an 8 ball or failed his studies??

Ironically , it was not uncommon for MOH awardees to be 8 balls, but came thru big time when the situation turned critical. This came be seen when reading the Medal Of Honor citations I have listed on this forum. Might Preston been such a person well will never know, but he does seem to have a devil may care attitude.

On the other hand, the officer who came up with the ignition key idea reminds me of General Short of Hickam field fame.

In order to solve the threat of Jap saboteurs he ordered planes placed in neat rows for Jap planes to shoot up.

What ever, the person to curse for ignition keys isn't Preston. The person to curse is the A--H--- of a General who gave the order.

Jim C


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#18 RoscoeTurner

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Posted 19 April 2019 - 07:37 PM

Instruments is the hardest part of flight school, more fail that phase than any other.  Back during that period students were given additional training hours or were recycled to the class behind them if they had problems during any of the phases.  Once past the instrument phase flight school was a breeze.

 

I was a flight instructor at Rucker from 81-84 teaching Nighthawk/NVG and later Combat Skills.  Returned there as a contractor from 90-92, taught primary briefly then moved to a special contract instructing in the CH47 transition.


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#19 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 11:15 AM

Frenchkat,

 

Do you happen to know the reason Preston got busted out of flight training ?? 

 Roscoe was spot on.

 

"Preston enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1972, joining a four-year program that guaranteed him two years of helicopter pilot training in return for two years of post-training enlistment. At flight school in Fort Wolters, Texas, Preston flew the Hughes TH-55 Osage, but washed out of the program because of “deficiency in the instrument phase,” losing his chance to become a warrant officer and effectively ending his flying career before it began."


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#20 jim c 351

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Posted 20 April 2019 - 12:51 PM

Arthur,

Thanks. That's the end of the story.

Jim C


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