ROXBURY, NJ – Students at St. Therese School in Succasunna had an exciting morning Wednesday as a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) helicopter landed in the school parking lot.

It wasn’t a raid or emergency landing. It was a pre-arranged visit; a community outreach effort by the DEA as part of Red Ribbon Week, an annual alcohol, tobacco, drug and violence prevention campaign.

The AStar chopper touched down at St. Therese around 10 a.m. Afterward, the students got to talk to the pilots and pose some questions.

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The inquiries were many, said the co-pilot in an interview (who asked that his name not be used): “How does the rotor work? Does it use a lot of fuel? How many people can fit in the back? Did I ever crash? Did I ever shoot anybody? Are the windows bulletproof?”

He said the visit was requested by the school to augment a “concepts of flight” discussion taking place in a science class. He said it was his first visit to a Roxbury school, but he noted he’s done similar visits “many, many times” at schools all over the area.

The helicopter crew, based at the Essex County Airport, works throughout the Northeast. After Wednesday’s interaction with the St. Therese kids, the unit lifted off from the parking lot while the students cheered. It circled back for a high-speed fly-by and disappeared to the north.

The co-pilot said the chopper was not headed to another school. “Going on a mission,” is all he would add.

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