Two of four Ugandan helicopters that went missing over Kenyan airspace on Sunday as they flew to Somalia are still unaccounted for, the Defence ministry said last evening. As confusion mounted over what could have happened, the Ugandan military, however, dismissed reports that there could have been foul play in the mishap, blaming the suspected multiple crashes on bad weather. Ugandan military and defence ministry spokesman, Col. Felix Kulayigye, told journalists in Kampala that one Mi-17 transport chopper, with 13 individuals onboard made it to Mogadishu, while two of the three Mi-24 attack helicopters are yet to be found. Each of the lost choppers had five soldiers on board. One Mi-24 attack helicopter flown by airforce Lt. Col. Chris Kasaija crash-landed in Castle Forest, about 14 kilometres from Kimunye Forest Service in Mt. Kenya. All five individuals aboard the aircraft had been rescued yesterday afternoon and safely evacuated by the Kenyan military to Nanyuki Army Base, four miles outside of Nairobi.
This is a major issue for someone to investigate. The variety of stories coming out of the press, and the rumours and hearsay are simply amazing! Four helicopters enroute from Uganda to Somalia stop in Nanyuki for refuelling. They then take off on a direct track to either Garissa or Wajir (depending on the report), in formation and apparently with strict radio silence. One makes it to destination, three others don't. One Mayday is heard by Nanyuki tower, one survivor reports an engine failure before impact, helicopters are burnt/upside down/destroyed.
What on earth happened?!?!? Its mind-blowing that what should have been a straightforward repositioning flight ended up with a 75% failure rate.
It seems pretty odd that they should all pile into what is essentially an isolated mountain in an otherwise unobstructed area.
Plenty of possible scenarios and though the tendency is to assume incompetence - plus there have been many cases of multiple helo losses in the aftermath of a single accident, S Georgia and the more recent one in - hell, where was it? Thailand? And, as said above, cumulo granitus encounters aren't restricted to 3rd world AirForces.
Time will tell, but I'm willing to bet the tale will be one you couldn't make up if you tried, and if you did no one would believe it...
Well the story I have heard (and i cannot stress enough that this is only hearsay!) is that they were initially to route direct for garissa, but they got intelligence that the al shabaab had smuggled anti-aircraft missiles into the country. They therefore chose to pass south of Mt Kenya. When they encountered weather, they opted to climb to MSA. The lead aircraft being a Mi-17 was able to reach FL200 and continued safely. The other 3 smaller Mi-24s flamed out on climb and crashed (hence the mayday). I know close to nothing about the Russian built choppers and their performance figures. So if that is a load of bull or wishful thinking, please let me know...
Again, i stress that this is purely rumours i have heard from people in contact with members of the UAF and have not been confirmed. This could very well just be lies or a load of bull but this being a rumour network and all, i thought i would share. If anybody else has heard the same, please share!
What, flying a Mil 17 at FL200, and in icing conditions? Brave. Or perhaps just plain foolhardy. Maybe a feasible scenario for the Hinds to flame out though, I can't believe they'd do so merely due to altitude, would they?