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Four Killed In Military Helicopter Crash

May 10, 1996

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) _ As dozens of people watched in horror, a military helicopter lost its blades, flipped backward and slammed into the ground, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air.

The four people on board, all Sikorsky Aircraft employees, were killed in Thursday’s crash at the company’s airfield. The transport helicopter was undergoing a flight check before it was to be added to the White House fleet.

The identities of the victims were withheld pending notification of relatives. The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

It was not clear if the helicopter had just taken off or if it was attempting to land.

Dozens of people working nearby and passing motorists saw the crash.

``It lost its blades. It did a back flip, and then there was a thick, black cloud of smoke. It went down so fast,″ said John Nasufi, owner of Stella’s Restaurant across the street from the plant.

The heavy-lift helicopter was to be assigned to a Marine unit at Quantico, Va., that provides support services for the White House, Sikorsky spokeswoman Gina McAllister said. It would have been used for such purposes as ferrying limousines and other advance equipment for the White House.

The helicopter, however, would not have been used to carry the president.

The CH-53E, built by Sikorsky and known as the ``Super Stallion,″ is a three-engine helicopter that can carry 56 people and is used by the Marines and Navy.

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