West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) – A restored helicopter on display at the Celebrate Freedom Foundation was hit and either heavily damaged or destroyed by an out of control vehicle Saturday night. The extent of the damages will have to be determined by aviation experts. The driver of the vehicle has been charged with driving under the influence.
The Celebrate Freedom Foundation is located on the Columbia Airport Expressway (Airport Blvd.). According to their website at gocff.org, the non-profit was established in 1999. It was created by a group of retired military leaders. CFF’s mission is to further education efforts as well as, “To honor past aviation pioneers and inspire future space and aviation pioneers.” The foundation has always focused on education, with a STEM Education Outreach Programs. They are primarily directed toward K-12 students. “Reaching students in their early years is critical to inspire them to become anything they want to be. It is our job to put all of the potential opportunities in front of them,” says CFF Chairman, retired General John Lenti.
The CFF website shows the aircraft that was damaged is Annie. It is a beautifully restored 1967 AH-1, Cobra Attack Helicopter. Annie served with honors with the 20th ARA 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam and Desert Storm. Annie often was taken to CFF’s School SOaR visits. Students at Applied Technology Education Campus (ATEC) used their C.A.T.E. and S.T.E.A.M.skills to renovate these Army helicopters. Annie is named after Anne Margaret.
Although Annie is damaged, this certainly won’t slow down the members of the Celebrate Freedom Foundation. They have a number of other pieces of equipment and the undying spirit of the men and women of the U.S. Military to adapt and overcome. To learn more about the CFF and how you can get involved or help, go to their website at gocff.org.