Afghanistan. An Apache helicopter. A video camera. An epic crash.
No, it's not the latest "Rambo" movie, but rather, an amateur video on YouTube that shows a military aerial show gone wrong.
The dramatic, albeit brief, video allegedly shows an AH-64 Army helicopter sprinting toward the clouds, appearing to scrape its belly on a nearby building. The Apache helicopter then comes plummeting back to earth like a kid losing control off a bicycle ramp -- except in this case, it's a $20 million bike and the snows of Afghanistan as the crash site.
Stars and Stripes first posted about the video on Wednesday, writing that International Security Assistance Force officials said the video appeared to be real, showing "a crash which occurred in Paktika province on Feb. 6, although they are still investigating who filmed and posted the clip."
A Department of Defense-authorized publication distributed overseas and online, Stars and Stripes describes itself as "editorially independent of interference from outside its own editorial chain-of-command" and "guaranteed First Amendment privileges that are subject to Congressional oversight."
The statement Stars and Stripes cited in its article was not available on the ISAF website.
In an email sent to The Huffington Post, Justin M. Brockhoff, spokesman for the ISAF, reiterated the Stars and Stripes post, saying that two AH-64s were "gathering supplies that were airdropped earlier in the day" and that "one of the aircraft crashed, and thankfully no one on the ground was injured and both members of the aircrew survived."
Brockhoff said an investigation is underway by U.S. Army officials to "determine the cause and any other factors behind the incident."
ABC News reports that the helicopter appeared to be performing a "return to target" maneuver, described as a "low swoop followed up by the 180 degree turn followed by another swoop," an aerial move that helicopter pilots would be extensively trained to do.
According to Wired, during correspondent David Axe's visit to Afghanistan in January, helicopters regularly buzzed low "as a demonstration of American power" and "a morale boost for the isolated troops."
Military officials would not confirm if the crew would face criminal charges.