From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has told of how the missing pilot of one of its Alfa Jets, which crashed on Sunday, while on an operation in Zamfara State, survived the crash.
The pilot, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, was said to be returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna State when he came under intense enemy fire, which led to its crash in Zamfara state.
After the crash, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, was said to have been successfully ejected from the aircraft, but could not make it to a safe haven as he was surrounded by the enemies, thus, forcing him to remain at a safe location until morning.
NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, who made this known in a statement, said, “On July 18, 2021, at about 12.45 pm, a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet aircraft, returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna State, came under intense enemy fire, which led to its crash in Zamfara State.
Luckily, the gallant pilot of the aircraft, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, successfully ejected from the aircraft. Using his survival instincts, the pilot, who came under intense ground fire from the bandits, was able to evade them and sought refuge in nearby settlements awaiting sunset. Using the cover of darkness and his phone set for navigation, Flight Lieutenant Dairo was able to elude several bandits’ strongholds and maneuvered his way to a Nigerian Army Unit, where he was finally rescued.
“It is instructive to note that upon receipt of the news of the crash, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, had directed that all efforts must be emplaced to rescue the pilot. Accordingly, NAF Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms and helicopter gunships provided close air support to NAF Special Forces and Nigerian Army troops who were able to locate the crash site and the pilot’s parachute, while also combing nearby locations for any sign of the pilot. It is gladdening to note that while in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed that the presence of NAF aircraft within the vicinity of the crash site helped in scaring the bandits who were after him, thus, enabling him to find refuge and escape to a safe location.