Pilot gave the nod for purchase of helicopter
The pilot who was flying the ill-fated helicopter was the officer who conducted the final tests for the government to buy the aircraft.
Superintendent Nancy Gituanja, a mother of three, signed the acceptance form after flying the helicopter in Nairobi for one hour.
The government formally accepted the aircraft after it had been confirmed serviceable by Supt Gituanja, who died in the crash. Supt Gituanja and Supt Luke O. Oyugi were the captain and co-pilot respectively.
They are said to have been very experienced and had travelled with Internal Security minister George Saitoti on several missions. They were at Kedong for a rally last week.
Airwing Commandant Rodgers Mbithi said that they normally fly with two pilots for enhanced safety reasons. “It must have been something abrupt and out of their control,” said Mr Mbithi.
The team was supposed to leave at 8am yesterday but Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojode delayed, forcing them to leave at 8.30am.
Mr Ojode drove himself to the station and parked his vehicle, a dark blue Mercedes Benz, at the Airwing’s parking lot.
Supt Gituanja and Supt Oyugi had the call signs Falcon 230 and Falcon 233 respectively assigned to them.
They met Mr Mbithi at 7am and checked the location of their destination, Ndhiwa, Nyarungi Parish Church, through Google and came up with the coordinates.
The two were on a mission to take the VIPs for a church service where they were also supposed to conduct a fund-raiser. They were also supposed to take Prof Saitoti to Borabu at around 9am today to attend a peace rally.
Pilot Gituanja underwent training in the Ukraine in April 2009. She also went through specialised training regarding the aircraft in South Africa.
Last December, she went to South Africa together with the Kenya Police Airwing commandant for a two-week training.
At the same time, Supt Oyugi’s widow, Ms Patricia Adhiambo Owino, 37, said she was shocked to receive news about the death and is struggling to come to terms with it.
Ms Adhiambo Owino, who is based in Homa Bay, said she last talked with her husband over the phone at 5pm on Saturday when he had just come from work. She last saw her two weeks ago.
“We happily discussed family issues and agreed that I would travel to meet him in Nairobi next week. That was never to be and I did not know that I was talking to my lovely husband for the last time,” she said.