Commander Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) Air Marshal Elson Moyo has commended the pilots of a Mi-35 helicopter gunship for “a masterful landing” in Chitungwiza after the chopper had developed a technical fault.
Moyo said the pilots’ skills saved the lives of the aircrew and the people on the ground.
The helicopter reportedly crash-landed near oil expresser Surface Wilmar in Chitungwiza on Thursday evening. Speaking on the incident, Moyo said:
_It took tremendous skill and presence of mind for the pilots to put the lives of the people on the ground first, while experiencing an emergency._
_I wish to commend the aircrew for averting a major accident and saving lives and damage to property._
According to the AFZ, the pilots made the emergency landing after the helicopter developed a technical fault during a flight on Thursday while flying from Kutanga Range in Kwekwe to Manyame Air Force Base. Said AFZ:
_Group Captain Maxwell Sakupwanya as the Captain and Flight Lieutenant Atiowin Tsongora, as the co-pilot/navigator, however, had the presence of mind to steer the helicopter away from built-up areas and other obstacles before making a forced landing about five kilometres to the south of Chitungwiza (Unit L cemeteries)._
Some Chitungwiza residents who spoke to The Herald said the incident occurred at 4.30 pm on Thursday.
They also said the helicopter landed at the dumpsite where there are no buildings.
In April, four people, including two pilots and an engineer, died while two others were injured after an Air Force of Zimbabwe Agusta Bell 412 (AB 412) helicopter crashed in the Hukuru Area in Arcturus, Mashonaland East.