Two Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) pilots died instantly when the SF260 trainer aircraft they were flying crashed into a squatter settlement soon after takeoff from the Prince Charles Airport on the western outskirts of the capital Harare on September 4.
In a press statement, AFZ commander Air Marshall Perence Shiri said the two pilots were flying the SIAI-Marchetti SF260 on a routine training mission over the Mount Hampden area when it suddenly nose-dived and crashed into a sprawling squatter settlement.
Air Marshall Shiri said there were no further casualties on the ground although the impact of the crash caused extensive structural damage to buildings nearby. The cause of the crash has not been established yet.
A combined team of aviation experts from the army, the police and the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) has started preliminary investigations to establish the cause of the crash.
“We are deeply saddened by the aircraft accident which has claimed the lives of our officers. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of these courageous officers who died in the line of duty.
“The cause of the accident will be determined after aircraft accident investigations. Details of the funeral arrangements will be announced in due course,” Shiri said.
AFZ sources said the aircraft was one of four light aircraft which took off from Prince Charles Airport and were meant to perform rehearsals for flying in formation ahead of the AFZ air show (Big African Air Show) over the weekend.