Pilots on an Omaha Police Department helicopter had to make an emergency landing Tuesday morning after a mechanical failure.

The pilots on board, Officers Dustin Hill and Matthew Baughman, were not injured.

The mechanical failure occurred shortly after the helicopter, called Able-1, left the North Omaha Airport at 11901 N. 72nd St. about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. The pilots, who are sworn officers, decided to make an emergency landing in a field northwest of the airport.

The helicopter, a Bell OH58 acquired from the military, was damaged during the landing and cannot be used. The tail broke as the helicopter was landing and tilted back and forth, causing the rotor blade to clip the tail.

The air support unit was in the second day of annual training with a contractor, who reviews emergency procedures. Hill and Baughman were flying from the airport to get to the training — the flight itself was not a training exercise, though pilots followed normal emergency protocols.

Both pilots have worked for the Police Department for 19 years. Hill has been in the air support unit for 13 years, and Baughman has worked in the unit for 14 years.

The department still has two operable helicopters.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the emergency landing.

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Alia Conley covers breaking news, crime, crime trends, the Omaha Police Department and initial court hearings. Follow her on Twitter @aliavalentine. Phone: 402-444-1068.

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