Two pilots who flew helicopters during the 2003 Iraq invasion on the day Brian Williams had said he took fire have confirmed claims that the NBC News anchor was not on an aircraft hit with enemy fire.
Pilot Don Helus told CNN on Sunday that that his helicopter did take fire that day, and that Williams was not on board.
Helus, who initially shared his memories of the attack and Williams’ claims with the Dothan Eagle, said that the helicopters flew in two separate fleets. He said Williams was not in his fleet, and therefore likely did not witness the RPG attack.
Helus told CNN that he realized that Williams told an inaccurate version of the attack in 2003, prompting him to write in to NBC “to alert them that the facts were incorrect … stating that Mr. Williams was not part of our flight. He was in a different flight.”
“I guess if he’s that close, then he’s got bigger problems. The only thing that you see coming off of an RPG is the smoke trail and the explosion. Like I said, if you’re that close, you have bad luck,” Helus said.
Chief Allan Kelly flew the helicopter on which Williams rode in 2003, and said that the aircraft did not encounter an RPG attack.
Kelly, who spoke to the New York Times last week, said that the helicopter Williams rode on was 15 to 30 minutes behind the aircraft that encountered an RPG attack.
Stelter asked Kelly if it was possible that Williams thought he was being shot at at the time.
“Anything is possible. They’re sitting in the back. I don’t remember if they were hooked up on headsets and could hear what was going on,” Kelly responded. “We had a lot of stuff going on on the radios. We had a couple aircraft that were calling in for help, they were being shot down, Big Windy being one of them. So Mr. Williams in the back, he’s free to look out the windows back there. He wouldn’t see much. If he was on headset and heard radio calls over guard, it’s possible he could have thought that, I suppose.”
Williams apologized for his factual errors on air last week. But after additional videos of him telling different versions of the story surfaced, Williams announced Saturday that he would temporarily take himself off of the air.
Watch the interviews via CNN: