Military Helicopter in Deadly Crash in Central Philippines

Jeoffrey Maitem
Cotabato, Philippines
Military Helicopter in Deadly Crash in Central Philippines First Lt. Sharon Lowe Carvajal, a Philippine Air Force pilot, buckles her seatbelt aboard an MG-520 helicopter during a photo opportunity at the military airbase in Sangley Point, Cavite city, Philippines, April 3, 2007.

A military helicopter crashed in waters off Bohol Island in the central Philippines during a maintenance-check flight on Tuesday, leaving its pilot dead and three other people on board wounded, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) confirmed.

The MG-520 attack helicopter, made by McDonnell Douglas in the United States and whose model dates back to 1967, plunged due to still unknown reasons, the air force said.

“We can confirm that we have a downed aircraft in the vicinity of Bohol,” air force spokesman Lt. Col. Maynard Mariano said. “Right now, we are still gathering all the information needed so that we would be able to give you the cause of the crash.”

The pilot, Capt. Aurelios Olano, died in the crash while three others survived but were rushed by rescuers to a nearby hospital to be examined and treated for injuries.

The crash was the latest involving government-owned helicopters, many of which are used to ferry soldiers to remote areas and officials needing quick air transport between camps.

Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said he was saddened to hear “the report of the demise of one of our Philippine Air Force (PAF) pilots who succumbed in a crash landing … in Getafe, Bohol,” the state-run Philippine News Agency said, citing a statement from the military.

“We send our sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues as we offer our support in any we can,” Sobejana said.

PNA said all 520s in the Philippine military’s helicopter fleet were grounded after Tuesday’s crash.

It happened months after seven soldiers died in a similar accident when the helicopter they were flying in, a refurbished UH-1H Vietnam-era craft commonly known as a Huey, went down in the mountains of Bukidnon, a province in the southern Philippines, on Jan. 17.

In September last year, an air force helicopter used as an air ambulance crashed en route to the southern island of Jolo, leaving four crew members dead. In July 2020, four soldiers were killed when their Huey chopper crashed after takeoff in the northern province of Isabela.

In March last year, the country’s police chief and three police generals were among eight people injured when their Bell 429 helicopter crashed near Manila.


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