Tuesday’s SA Air Force (SAAF) air power capability display in Limpopo was marred by an Oryx emergency landing, fortunately with no injuries.
The medium transport helicopter was delivering troops when it crash-landed an eye witness said.
“The crash landing happened in front of invited guests, foreign diplomats and the media. As the aircraft hit the ground part of the tail rotor and wheel collapsed. When the helicopter came to a stop quick thinking by the crew saw the engines cut,” he said.
Colonel Eugene Motati of SAAF Corporate Communication said: “The unfortunate incident occurred and as you all know details are not clear. We can confirm the pilot was Lieutenant Colonel King, we are thankful there were no fatalities or major injuries, just a minor ankle injury to one person. You witnessed this occurrence during the trooping manoeuvre, at the moment we do not suspect mechanical failure and we don’t want to speculate further. We hope the board of enquiry will give more details and the cause of the accident.
“I want to emphasise we are happy with the reaction of the aircrew controlling the aircraft without any further damage. It could have been worse if not correctly handled. So we are proud of the performance of our airmen, they displayed excellent airmanship in that space of time, because it happened so quickly.
“The crew and troops were able to extract safely from the aircraft.”
The incident overshadowed the annual display of the SAAF’s sir power capability, timed this year to coincide with the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition at AFB Waterkloof.
The capability demonstration was attended by members of the defence and military attaché corps, defence industry representatives and media. Delegations from Uganda, Nigeria, UAE, Germany and the Czech Republic were present.
The demonstration provides the SAAF with an opportunity to display its collaboration with other services of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). The purpose of the airpower capability display 2018 was to showcase key SAAF equipment, its operational capability and combat readiness as well as the role it can play in peace support missions.
Included in the day’s highlights was a C130BZ cargo drop against a setting sun; aerial combat manoeuvring with a pair of 2 Squadron Gripens and a Hawk Mk120 from Combat Flying School at AFB Makhado. Rooivalk combat support helicopters showed their stuff by providing top cover for ground troops, brought in by Oryx medium transport helicopters.
Photographs: Jarryd Sinovich