Zimbabwe Air Force helicopter crashes into house, four killed including child
An Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter crashed on Friday, 23 April 2021, killing three crew members and a child on the ground as it came down on a house in Acturus in Acturus, a farming area some 30km east of the capital Harare. The Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) statement read, “An Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) Agusta Bell 412 (AB 412) helicopter from Number 8 Squadron at Manyame Air Force Base (Manyame AFB) crashed in the Hukuru Area in Acturus. The helicopter crashed into a house and sadly claimed the lives of two pilots and a technician as well as a child on the ground while another young girl and the mother had burn injuries and were taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital.”
The helicopter took off from Manyame AFB with two pilots and one aircraft technician on board on a General Handling training sortie in the Seke-Domboshava Training Area. When contact could not be established with the aircraft the Base activated a Search and Rescue operation. As a result of the Search and Rescue effort, the aircraft wreckage was identified.
In his message after the accident, Commander Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ), Air Marshal Elson Moyo, said a dark cloud had engulfed the AFZ after news of the helicopter accident that claimed the lives of three aircrew and a civilian on the ground. "We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives after the unfortunate accident. Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the deceased and those injured after the accident," he said.
In a statement on 24 April 2021, 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 27 February 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.
The cause of the accident will be established after an aircraft accident investigation and funeral arrangements for the deceased will be announced in due course.
Source: Air Force of Zimbabwe