Military exercises to bring low-flying helicopters, explosions to Pittsburgh |

Military exercises to bring low-flying helicopters, explosions to Pittsburgh

Bob Bauder
The Department of Defense has scheduled tactical and technical training with Pittsburgh, state and suburban police SWAT teams next week that will include helicopters similar to ones seen here during a fly over prior to the start of the Pirates’ home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, April 1, 2019.

Don’t be alarmed if you hear explosions this week or see low-flying military helicopters and planes buzzing around Pittsburgh and the surrounding area during the evening.

The Department of Defense has scheduled tactical and technical training with Pittsburgh, state and suburban police SWAT teams, according to Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich. Dozens of officials from various branches of the Defense Department will be in Pittsburgh on Monday with training exercises starting Tuesday and continuing through Saturday.

“People may see low-flying helicopters with individuals hanging on the side of them, and they may hear loud explosions,” Hissrich said. “We appreciate the public’s patience and understanding, and we apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.”

He said operations would likely take place Downtown, in the city’s East End area and north of Pittsburgh.

Hissrich would not provide specific details about the training, but said similar exercises in the past have been invaluable to SWAT officers during critical incidents, particularly in the Tree of Life shooting in 2018. SWAT officers responding to the Tree of Life shootings on Oct. 27 participated in military exercises that ran from July 29 to Aug. 3, 2018, according Hissrich.

Low-flying helicopters and tactical ground operations last year prompted numerous calls and social media inquiries from people curious and concerned about the sightings.

“They’re saving me thousands of dollars on training, and they bring revenue to Pittsburgh,” Hissrich said of the military. “They’re staying in hotels; they’re renting cars; they’re eating in restaurants, and any experience that we pick up is beneficial to our officers in keeping them safe.”

Hissrich said the Public Safety Department also has an “active threat” drill scheduled for Monday evening with employees at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The drill is unrelated and was scheduled before the military exercises, he said.

Tenth Street between Fort Duquesne Boulevard and French Street will be closed between 6 p.m. and midnight with the drill going on between 8 p.m. and midnight.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-564-3080, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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