GRANGER, Texas (KXAN) — The helicopter that crashed in a cotton field near Granger Tuesday afternoon killing two men was contracted by the U.S. Army Assistance Training Management Organization.
The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the pilot as Michael Hawley, 58, of Dothan, Alabama, and the Jordanian co-pilot as Ahmad Al Khawaldeah, 27. According to the U.S. Security Assistance Command (USASAC), Hawley was an employee of Brunner Aerospace and the two men were conducting training in a contractor-owned helicopter when they crashed.
Brunner Aerospace is contracted by U.S. Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization, a subordinate command of USASAC, to conduct training for Jordanian pilots as part of a Foreign Military Sales case for the country of Jordan’s military.
“Our hearts go out to both of the families involved. The relationships between our training teams and our foreign partners are particularly close, so this is a devastating loss for of all of us,” Maj. Gen. Jeff Drushal, USASAC commanding general, stated in a press release.
John Brunner, the CEO of Brunner Aerospace, released a statement Wednesday evening. He said this incident happened while supporting a government contract providing aviator-training services.
“We grieve the loss of these aviators,” Brunner said in the statement. “These individuals were true professionals and no further comments will be given. Please respect the privacy of those involved as we offer full transparency to the requisite authorities investigating this event.”
The Federal Aviation Administration says the helicopter, a Hughes H369FF departed from Georgetown airport around 12:15 p.m. and crashed approximately 15 miles east of the airport. According to preliminary reports, the helicopter hit a power line and crashed into a cotton field and caught on fire.
The crash site is located directly in front of Darrell Maxey’s house in Granger. He said he witnessed explosions after the helicopter crashed into the field.
“There was a little explosion, and then about 30 to 40 yards to the right there was a big explosion,” Maxey said. “It was 30 to 40-foot flames in the air.”
He added that his heart goes out to the loved ones of the two victims, particularly those of the Jordanian fighter pilot because they’re grieving thousands of miles away.
“Somewhere there’s someone over in Jordan that’s really hurting right now,” he said, “so all we can do is pray for them.”
While the U.S. Security Assistance Training Management Organization is located in Fort Bragg, N.C., they have teams that conduct training missions worldwide.