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6 ARMY HELICOPTERS FORCED INTO EMERGENCY LANDING

Eastern Niagara County has some unexpected visitors: six military helicopters that were forced to land Monday at the tiny Royalton Airport.

The surge of the low-flying aircraft also caused some damage to a local residence. The emergency landing of the Army National Guard copters cracked plaster and windows on the second floor of a Root Road home.

Army officials refused to reveal anything about the flight of the helicopters, which were making a cross-country flight from California, because of the need for secrecy surrounding current military operations.

The damaged home is about two miles northeast of the general aviation facility at Dale and Mackey roads, where the Cobra helicopters landed because of rainy weather about 11:30 a.m. Monday.

The resident, a mother of four who did not want her name used, said she is restoring the Victorian-era home, built about 1865, and the choppers set her back.

The woman said she wants compensation from the military.

"I just want my house fixed. I don't want to do it again," she said.

No other houses seemed to have been damaged by the low-flying helicopters.

The Buffalo News reached an officer on the mission, First Lt. William Fitzgerald.

The six Cobras are from Los Alamitos (Calif.) Joint Forces Training Center. Fitzgerald wouldn't say where they were going.

"The weather was bad. We just had no place else to land," Fitzgerald said. As of Tuesday evening the helicopters were still at the Royalton airport, with crew members hoping the weather will let up so they can depart early today.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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