The Story of How a Man Stole a Military Helicopter and Landed it on the White House Lawn

Credits: ocean property

On February 17, 1974, the streets of Washington DC witnessed an extraordinary event: a helicopter flying dangerously low, buzzing past iconic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, with the Secret Service and police in hot pursuit.

This was no foreign attack but the daring act of Robert K Preston, a disgruntled US Army private, who, at just 20 years old, aimed for the White House in a stolen Bell UH-1B Huey helicopter.

Preston’s journey to this moment began two years earlier when he enlisted in the Army with dreams of becoming a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.

Military Helicopter Landed on White House (Credits: Binge Society/YouTube)

However, after failing technical training, he was assigned as a helicopter mechanic at Fort Meade, Maryland, a role that left him disillusioned and resentful. His anger was compounded by personal issues, including romantic troubles.

On that fateful night, feeling overlooked and unappreciated, Preston impulsively decided to take matters into his own hands. He walked out, prepared a helicopter for flight, and took off, astonished that no one stopped him. As he flew over the capital, he marveled at the landmarks below, including the Washington Monument and the US Capitol.

His flight took him twice over the White House, where he observed the crowd below before deciding to leave. Unbeknownst to him, authorities had been alerted early in his flight, and police helicopters and cars were in pursuit. Despite their efforts, Preston managed to evade them for a while, even hovering over a donut shop at one point.

As he headed back towards the White House, the Secret Service opened fire, hitting Preston in the legs. Despite his injuries, he managed to land the helicopter on the White House lawn.

He was immediately taken into custody and later sentenced to six months in prison for wrongful appropriation and breach of peace.

After his release, Preston lived a quiet life away from the spotlight, raising two stepdaughters in Washington state. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 55.

While his actions were reckless and dangerous, those who witnessed his flight were impressed by his piloting skills. Even in the midst of chaos, Preston’s ability to navigate the helicopter under duress was acknowledged by law enforcement officials.

Hey, I'm Sharon Mittal . Writing has always been my hobby. I write articles on Asian entertainment, especially Kpop and Kdramas. Besides that, I also write about dating kinds of stuff and gossip.