VIDEO: UPDF recovers chopper that crashed-landed in Fort Portal

What you need to know:

  • The Mi-24 gunship crashed into a mud and wattle house at Saaka at 9:30am Saturday, just half a kilometer from the airfield, according to UPDF officials.

The Uganda People’s Defence Air Force (UPDAF) has recovered an attack helicopter that crash-landed on an elderly woman’s house over the weekend near Saaka Airfield in Fort Portal City, Kabarole District in western Uganda.

The Mi-24 gunship crashed into a mud and wattle house at Saaka at 9:30am Saturday, just half a kilometre from the airfield, according to UPDF officials.

Residents pictured looking at the wreckage of the UPDF helicopter that crashed into a mud and wattle house at Saaka in Fort Portal city, Kabarole District in western Uganda on September 24, 2022. PHOTOS/ ALEX ASHABA

According to the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) spokesperson, Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, a team of technicians from the Air Force helped to recover the fighter chopper.

“Our MI-24 attack helicopter that had made an emergency landing in Fort Portal has been recovered. Thanks to our team of technicians from Air Force,” he tweeted Wednesday evening.

Preliminary findings attribute the crash to technical errors. This publication understands that the crew manning the ill-fated helicopter had specifically been trained to fly Mi-28, Uganda’s latest and more modern fire-power acquisition in the sky. 

According to knowledgeable sources, three of the UPDAF choppers had flown out to Fort Portal in a formation, before one which had two people on board dropped from the skies. The two others landed successfully. No casualties were reported.

The UPDF Mountain division spokesperson, Maj Peter Mugisa said the UPDF constructions engineers have since been contacted to help repair the damaged house belonging to Ms Peruth Kabarwani.

“The woman whose house was damaged, we are going to reconstruct it, because when we were trying to remove the helicopter we demolished the entire house because the rotor blades of the helicopter could not start,” he said.

Ms Kabarwani said: “I was inside the house alone, I heard people making an alarm. I moved outside to see, I found the helicopter had destroyed my kitchen and part of my house.” 

 Ms Mary Mbabazi, the daughter of Kabarwani, said on December 30, 2021, another helicopter that was taking off from the same airfield also damaged their house and blew off the iron sheets of the local church. 

“We reported the matter to all concerned authorities, UPDF officials called us and promised to compensate us but up to now we are still waiting and again the same incident has happened,”  she said.

Mr Jeroresi Insigoma, a resident, said the helicopter crash also destroyed part of his banana plantation and other fruit trees. 

“This time we need compensation. It is not the first time our properties are being destroyed by a helicopter landing on the airfield, it’s true we are neighbouring the airfield but the land belongs to us, we have nowhere to go,” he said.

Maj Mugisa responded: "Our team, which is verifying the damage, is on the ground making an assessment. They are also assessing how they are going to compensate affected people.”