American military pilot Bobby Hall flew home to Florida on Friday after telling U.S. military officials that he stood by the handwritten "confession" he gave to his North Korean captors, a statement that many U.S. officials had believed was counterfeited in classic Cold War style for propaganda purposes.

Hall, held captive in North Korea for 12 days after his military helicopter veered into the demilitarized zone, arrived at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa late Friday, then planned to drive home with his family to nearby Brooksville, Fla. His release to American officials on Thursday night defused a crisis that had threatened a pending nuclear accord with North Korea and jeopardized a recent diplomatic thaw relations on the volatile peninsula.Soon after he was freed, Hall told U.S. military aides that his widely publicized statement was "an accurate depiction" of his views on the Dec. 17 incident, according to a senior Pentagon official.

Hall's written explanation, released by North Koreans on Wednesday, acknowledged a "criminal action" by flying into their airspace and was filled with other harsh language that led U.S. officials to believe that its aim was to demonstrate American transgressions. Quoting Hall, the Pentagon official said the North Koreans had asked him for a statement and had "obviously wanted much stronger language" when he stated that he had unintentionally flown into North Korean airspace. But though there was some "back and forth discussion," the North Koreans ultimately accepted the account that Hall was willing to sign, the official said.

Hall was under some "mental duress" - simply from being in the North Koreans' hands - the official said. But he "was under no physical duress to sign the statement," said the official.

He said Hall was generally "well-treated" in North Korea, was "well-fed, got lots of rest." A medical examination in Seoul also showed him to be in good condition, officials said.

Pentagon officials asserted that Hall's account supported the official U.S. view of the events - "he was lost and strayed unintentionally into North Korea," as one official put it.

Hall's debriefing also provided new details of the grounding of the aircraft, which killed Hall's co-pilot, David M. Hilemon. But it left other questions unanswered.

Hall told military aides that although the engine failed, forcing him to descend from a height of somewhat less than 1,000 feet, he saw no direct evidence that the North Koreans had fired on his helicopter. The helicopter apparently "did not break up in flight," nor did Hall see any tracer bullets, the official said.

Pentagon officials say they believe the helicopter was probably shot down, although so far they do not have enough evidence to say so conclusively.

However, the Associated Press, quoting an unidentified source, said Hall told officials he was the target of North Korean fire after straying across the border. Hall, according to the source, heard or saw some kind of explosion on Hilemon's side of the helicopter - apparently from anti-aircraft artillery fire or a surface-to-air missile.

Pentagon officials Friday said Hall was able to land the craft by maneuvering it while the blade continued to rotate, a technique that helicopter pilots practice during training. After it landed, the helicopter burned, leaving few remains.

But Hall was unable to shed any light on how his co-pilot died. Hilemon's body was returned earlier this week to his family in Washington state; results of an autopsy will not be available for another two weeks, officials said.