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U.S. Coast Guard helicopter makes emergency landing in Target parking lot

KEMAH, Texas – A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter is back at Ellington Field after it had to make an emergency landing at a shopping center parking lot in Kemah.

The landing happened at around 8 p.m. Thursday near the Target and Home Depot off Marina Bay Drive.

Christopher Hulser, of USCG, said the aircraft was traveling at about 80 mph over the Gulf of Mexico when it hit a bird. The four-person crew had been performing some practice exercises.

After hitting the bird, they had to immediately find a place to land the helicopter and it turns out the shopping center parking lot was the perfect place. 

"It's flat ground and there weren't a lot of people around," Hulser said. "The crew did a great job."

The helicopter remained in the parking lot Thursday night. Two USCG members watched over it to make sure nobody got too close to the aircraft.

On Friday morning, maintenance crews arrived to start repairs. Dozens of people stopped by to take pictures of the helicopter. 

"It's very strange to see it right here," said Jessica Word, who brought her two young daughters.

"It's amazing! I got so many pictures," said Daniel Hood.

The helicopter took off at around 11:30 a.m. It is now at Ellington Field, where the crew is based. Hulser said it should return to flight in the next couple of days.