By Spy Uganda Correspondent
The whereabouts of a Tanzanian pilot who went missing as he flew on a mission to Selous Game Reserve remains unknown.
Mr Samwel Gibuyi of the conservation organization Pams Foundation went missing on October 18, 2021, when flying his plane from Matemanga Village in Ruvuma to Selous Game Reserve in search of black rhinos, failed to arrive as expected and the plane went missing from the control radars.
Search and rescue efforts were launched immediately with no success, the organization said.
The 31-year old pilot was flying solo to join his workmate in the Selous and conduct aerial surveillance, but his plane failed to arrive at its destination.
Pams project manager Max Jenes told journalists yesterday that the captain of the aircraft – named Bathawk Flight Number 5H-WXO – started his normal work mission at around noon, and was expected to arrive at 5pm – which did not happen.
According to the manager, they became suspicious at 5:30pm that something had gone wrong because he did not notify them that he had reached the destination safely.
“We, therefore, contacted his colleagues who were to meet him upon his arrival in the Selous. However, they confirmed that he had not arrived,” he said.
Explaining, Mr Jenes said since the pilot’s disappearance, they have tried to trace the aircraft using a special tool, “Spidertracks” to help locate him. But the tracking has not been successful either.
“As I speak with you right now, experts are searching for him physically and we still really don’t know what happened,” he said.
Spidertracks is an instrument that enables real-time flight tracking, automated flight watch, two-way communication, and flight data monitoring (FDM) for an aircraft.
Mr Jenes stressed that they were making various efforts to trace him, especially that the scenario of the aircraft going missing has not been established. He said experts were using government resources to search for him and the aircraft.
“Soon after his disappearance, the search and rescue efforts were launched immediately and have been ongoing. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to our partners in government, as well as our many friends – individuals, organizations and local communities – for the incredible support we have been receiving in the ongoing search for Samwel, he said – stressing that the support has been really touching.
As the search continued, they were doing everything possible, both in the air and on the ground, to locate their workmate.
Mr Gibuyi pursued a Private Pilot (PPL) Course in the country and pursued further in South Africa. PPCL is the first course taken by new student pilots. He also holds a bachelor degree in wildlife management.
Earlier Tunduru District Commissioner Mr Julius Mtatiro confirmed that efforts to search for the pilot were still going on.