An Unknown Helicopter Shows Up In Ocean County [Video]
The last time a mystery helicopter aroused the curiosity of Ocean County residents, we were able to pretty quickly find out what it was all about.
A number of times since this past spring, folks in Ocean County have flocked to Google to find out what's up with the low flying choppers buzzing our neighborhoods.
Thankfully, though, it just took a simple phone call to the fine folks at the Ocean County Mosquito Extermination Commission to provide a quick answer.
This time, however, answers haven't come so quickly.
People throughout the area not only reported seeing a military-style Chinook helicopter, like the ones in the photo above, but caught it on video as well.
Our Facebook fan Ernie took this video of the chopper making a fly-by of Seaside Park this past weekend:
But here's the weird thing - nobody really seems to be able to confirm where this one came from or who it belongs to.
The Asbury Park Press reports that Ocean County and State officials have said, nope, not ours.
And despite various online commentary claiming to know of training exercises that the vehicle is a part of, even officials over at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst have said that they're, "looking into" whether the huge piece of hardware came from them.
I'd like to address some of the criticisms that have been directed at this story in the past week.
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst has an excellent relationship with the community and the media. When they are performing exercises that will impact the public, they have always been very forthcoming.
Certainly, there are of course plenty of military exercises in our area that the Public Information team at the Joint Base may not be able to comment on specifically due to mission classification.
While it would make sense to assume that what we saw was simply a routine exercise, I think that we can agree that something as visible as what we saw, with an aircraft as large as the CH-47 flying as low and close to public areas as it was, is unusual in and of itself. But it is also unusual for an official statement to not accompany something like this.
If there was an unclassified exercise being conducted out of MDL, in my experience, we would have heard about it or would have gotten a quick answer to inquiries.
If it was a classified exercise, I feel confident saying that it wouldn't be taking place so visibly.
So, in the end, with plenty of amateur, self-proclaimed "news outlets" claiming to be the ones who know that it was nothing more than the Joint Base performing exercises, as someone who has interacted with the Joint Base's Public Information team many times, and who gets regular press releases from them, I can tell you that an answer of "we're looking into it" suggests that it was either not operated out of MDL, so they didn't even know about it at the time (which is certainly possible, and even likely considering the many bases geographically close to us, such as Ft. Indiantown Gap, Andrews and Dover), or something may have become more visible and public than it was meant to be.
In light of criticism targeted at our presentation of this story, I am confident in saying this - at the time that this happened, it was indeed a mystery.
With neither our local government or state government aware of the source, and the largest military installation in the state seemingly being uninvolved, I stand by that statement and the headline of this story.
As I do with everything that I write, I carefully researched and sourced this story before writing it, and have presented the facts as they were at the time of publication. I wrote it with no direction from editors or outside influencers (for those who have suggested that this is part of a "conspiracy", and yes, that accusation has been made). I stand by my reporting and welcome open discussion. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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