Air Force crew averts disaster Aircraft engineers work on an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter which crash-landed in Chitungwiza on Thursday. — Picture: Tawanda Mudimu.

Herald Reporter 

Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) pilots have been commended for averting a major accident after an emergency landing with their Mi-35 helicopter gunship in Chitungwiza, which had developed a technical fault.

As a result of the actions, there were no casualties or damage to property on the ground and all the crew on board, including five aircraft technicians, did not sustain injuries.

Commander AFZ Air Marshal Elson Moyo commended the pilots for a masterful landing that saved the lives of the aircrew and the people on the ground. 

“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,” he said.

“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 flight on Thursday while flying from Kutanga Range in Kwekwe to Manyame Air Force Base. 

“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),” said the AFZ.

Some Chitungwiza residents also praised the pilot for being astute.

 “The incident occurred at 4.30pm and we feared for the worst, but the helicopter ended up landing at the dumpsite where there are no buildings,” Mr Spencer Kandoma said.

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.

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