Skip to main content

As NBC investigates suspended Brian Williams, MN pilot shares firsthand account

  • Author:
  • Updated:

As the controversy around Brian Williams' comments continues, with the most recent news being a six-month suspension for the NBC News anchor, a Minnesota man who served as a pilot on that flight continues to speak out.

Chief Allan Kelly, born in Michigan but now a Duluth father with four children, has given numerous interviews since Williams came clean about his exaggerations regarding a helicopter trip in Iraq 12 years ago.

On Sunday, during one of his first interviews with the media, Kelly told CNN's "Reliable Sources" the aircraft he was piloting – with Williams aboard – was not shot down or even shot at, as the NBC anchor had claimed. Nor were any of the pilots wounded, resulting in a Purple Heart.

On Tuesday evening, NBC made an announcement:

The half-year suspension, without pay and effective immediately, comes as NBC's investigation into Williams' comments continues.

"As Managing Editor and Anchor of Nightly News, Brian has a responsibility to be truthful and to uphold the high standards of the news division at all times," NBC President Deborah Turness said in a news release.

The truth is what Kelly hopes for too.

He told the Duluth News Tribune the reason he's done all of the recent interviews is to help get the facts out there.

"I want the truth to come out," he said.

This embed is invalid

According to Kelly:

While Williams was on his helicopter, a different Chinook – about 30 minutes ahead of Kelly's – was shot down during a sandstorm. An Army Captain was injured in that attack, struck in the face with shrapnel, he told the Star Tribune.

But Kelly and Williams? Their helicopter landed safely minutes later, without injuries, after getting out of the sandstorm.

It's possible Williams heard the audio regarding the other chopper over his headset, then confused that information with what was happening to his chopper, Kelly told CNN.

But he's not angry with or blaming Williams. As he told "Reliable Sources":

"I don't make any judgments on that. Everybody has to live with the life they choose to lead. I was there to do a job, part of a volunteer army. I did my job. Part of that mission was to carry Mr. Williams and his crew with him up to be objective rams.

If he made mistakes - I mean, we're all human. But I make no judgments on him in that regard."

In addition to stories linked above, you can check out interviews Kelly did with with Northland's NewsCenter and Fox News.

Next Up

University of minnesota sign

U of M gives some students 50% off meals for September after complaints

Students have complained about an array of issues surrounding dining halls.


Gallery: Sprawling estate near Superior National Forest listed for $2.9M

The property has been in the same family for over 60 years.

Screen Shot 2022-09-27 at 2.51.49 PM

Surgery clinic proposed to replace 111-year-old farmhouse in Eagan

A developer is proposing to transform the remnant farm property.

Hurricane Ian

Why Hurricane Ian could be catastrophic in Florida

Hurricanes are the atmosphere’s biggest show of force and energy, and Hurricane Ian is no exception.


Suspect arrested after man and dog shot on St. Paul's East Side

The shooting happened around 12:45 p.m. Tuesday.


Bemidji police appeal to find missing teenager

Tahlia Poitra was last seen Wednesday.


Crisp & Green owner launches new chain, with 12 MN locations planned

Steele Brands already owns and operates Crisp & Green and Stalk & Spade.


New vendor to open at Rosedale Center food hall

POTLUCK Food Hall offers a rotating collection of local restaurants and food retailers.


Woman charged in drunk driving incident that killed Minnetonka HS alum

Nate Stratton, 20, died from his injuries on Sept. 18.


SHELBY SHARES: As planet temperatures rise, Minnesota farmers watch soil vanish

Minnesota farmers have seen an increasing amount of their rich soil washed and blown away in recent years. As the planet gets hotter, and Minnesota gets warmer and wetter, soil erosion is critical problem. But farmers have part of the answer, and it is right outside their windows.