Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
The Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) has released the names of the two pilots and a technician who died in a horrific helicopter crash in Goromonzi on Friday.
In a statement today, the AFZ said the pilots are Wing Commander Thomas Tinashe Manyowa and Flight Lieutenant Anita Mapiye while the aircraft technician is Flight Sergeant Tinodiwanashe Chikamhi.
The helicopter crash also claimed the life of an 18-month-old toddler, Jade Fenyere who was sleeping with her twin sister, Jada, when the Agusta Bell 412 (AB 412) helicopter crashed into their house.
Before the unfortunate accident, the deceased pilots, Wing Commander Manyowa and Flight Lieutenant Mapiye, trended on the social media platforms after they recently flew one of the helicopters that transported officials to the opening ceremony of the new bridge to access Karanda Mission Hospital.
Wing Commander Manyowa was a highly proficient helicopter pilot with more than 20 years flying experience. He was born on February 2, 1981 in Banket and after attestation into the AFZ in 1999, he was commissioned as an officer and subsequently awarded his flying wings on April 23, 2001.
In addition to other routine flying tasks, he flew the AB 412 helicopter on a number of operations such as search and rescue missions after the devastating Cyclone Idai in 2019 and the rescue and relief operations after the Tugwi-Mukosi floods in 2014.
The other pilot, Flight Lieutenant Mapiye, was born on April 3, 1991 in Harare and was attested into the AFZ on September 27, 2012. She earned her flying wings on July 1, 2017 after graduating at Number 6 Squadron at Josiah Tungamirai Air Force Base.
In 2019, Flight Lieutenant Mapiye made history when she completed a helicopter conversion course to become the first female combat helicopter pilot in the AFZ.
The aircraft technician, Flight Sergeant Chikamhi was born on February 27, 1994 in Zaka and was attested into the AFZ on 28 June 2013 as a trainee aircraft technician.
He completed the training in 2016 and was posted to Number 8 Squadron at Manyame Air Force Base, where he served as a helicopter technician until the time of his untimely death.
Commander AFZ, Air Marshal Elson Moyo, paid tribute to the dedication to duty and excellence by the deceased pilots and technicians.
He said one of the key factors for the successes scored by the AFZ in military and humanitarian assistance operations within and outside Zimbabwe, was training and the fact that the pilots and technicians died on a training mission was ample testimony of their determination to attain excellence in the execution of flying tasks in defence of Zimbabwe’s airspace and territorial integrity.
“We have lost highly dedicated pilots and a technician and their pursuit of excellence was unparalleled. On behalf of the AFZ, and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to express deepest condolences to the Manyowa, Mapiye and Chikamhi families as well as the Fenyere family who lost their child Jade Fenyere,” said Air Marshal Moyo.
He added that while the AFZ was mourning the sad loss of the pilots and technician, it was also a moment to reflect and celebrate the achievements of the deceased officers and member as well as to draw valuable lessons from their exemplary service to the AFZ and the nation, at large.
President Mnangagwa mourned the pilots, technician and Jade Fenyere, following the horrific crash.
The President also wished a speedy recovery to Jade’s twin sister Jada and her mother who sustained burn injuries.
Mourners for the late Wing Commander Manyowa are gathered at Number 28 Cheryl Road, Avondale, Harare while mourners for the late Flight Lieutenant Mapiye are gathered at Number 2011, Cardinal Avenue, Arlington Park, Harare.
For the funeral for the late Sergeant Chikamhi, mourners are gathered at Number 17685, Eastview, Harare. Funeral parade and burial arrangements for the three will be announced in due course.