Two Army National Guard helicopter pilots have been grounded after they used a Lakota painted with medical markings to disperse crowds near the White House last Monday. The U.S. Army is investigating their actions and the grounding is normal practice. The aircraft flew as low as 100 feet above protesters in a maneuver designed to use rotor wash to disperse those below. On Saturday, The New York Times reported that the Pentagon had ordered the National Guard to provide a “persistent presence” to disperse the crowds gathered to protest the police-involved killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Whether the rotor wash technique is part of that role isn’t clear.
The maneuver and misleading markings on the helicopter were widely criticized but the pilots had the support of their commander in chief. “The problem is not the very talented, low-flying helicopter pilots wanting to save our city, the problem is the arsonists, looters, criminals, and anarchists, wanting to destroy it (and our Country)!” President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday.