A number of Miami residents have been startled to see military helicopters buzzing above their heads throughout the past week. The helicopters have been seen circling the skies, soldier-like figures have apparently been repelling onto rooftops, and some have even reported hearing what sounds like gunfire. So what's going on?
According to officials, there's nothing to be concerned about. But that hasn't stopped a number of local residents from raising concern.
The Miami Herald related about a week ago, before the drills started:
Miami-Dade police sent out a warning [last] Monday that multiple police agencies would be providing support for a joint military training exercise somewhere over Miami and elsewhere in the county. The exercise will include the use of military helicopters.
The police statement said the training locations and times “were carefully selected to minimize negatively impacting the citizens of the City of Miami/Miami-Dade County and their daily routines.”
But it also acknowledged that there would be some impact on residents.
“This is routine training conducted by military personnel designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments, prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments, and meet mandatory training certification requirement,” the police statement said.
But those who don't read the papers were terrified at the sight of soldiers rappelling onto rooftops, as what sounded like machine gun fire echoed off the high-rises.
Josh Epperson, an artist who was visiting Miami during the drill, remarked: "I heard the machine gun fire and then I hit the deck...I didn't know what to expect, and it was one of the loudest things I'd ever heard."
And he isn't alone -- a number of Miami residents have already uploaded videos to YouTube of the unexpected sight.
One man caught the choppers from a window high above the city on his camera phone:
However, this isn't the first time military helicopters have flown over Miami. CBS Miami notes that a similar training operation was conducted in April of 2011.
And the drills are not limited to Miami -- TheBlaze's Liz Klimas reported on Black Hawk helicopters whizzing above Minneapolis buildings over the summer for a similar urban training exercise.
Either way, the videos are pretty remarkable. Skip to about 1:30 to hear what sounded like a machine gun to Epperson:
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