We spent a whole morning in the vicinity of Pyatigorskiy (25 km south of Mineralnye Vody) purchasing repair parts from civilian shops. These parts were for some of our off-road vehicles back at the airbase. We were a team of 5 men and, at the request of our battalion commander, we were issued full combat equipment. At that time we were not briefed about insurgent activity in the area, but judging from the intense activity and preparations at Mineralnye Vody it was evident that hostilities were imminent.
Around noon, we could hear distant sounds of heavy weapons southeast of our position. Some 20 minutes later we spotted a flight of two Ka-50 attack helicopters flying at medium altitude. One of the helicopters seemed to be having trouble flying. Eventually, both aircraft sank in the distance, hidden by patches of woods and hills. It was when only one of the aircraft emerged from the distant terrain and became visible again that we suspected something has gone wrong.
|We contacted our Battalion HQ to report a possible helicopter downing but nobody back there had any information about sorties being airborne that morning.|
|Two hours later, we finally reached our destination. Unfortunately, a team of insurgents already made it to the landing/crash site. We geared up and approached the site very carefully.|
|An attack helicopter, seemingly undamaged, was surrounded by an insurgent team.|
|We were overly cautious. Whenever in doubt about where those insurgent runaways were, we shot ... This is me firing a grenade towards our right flank.|
|The attack helicopter had significant battle damage, but it looked recoverable.|
|Half an hour after the firefight, combat troops joined us and secured the site.|