By Spy Uganda
The Uganda Peoples Defence Air Force (UPDAF) has released identities and details of two army officers who died in a helicopter crash on Tuesday in Gomba hills.
The deceased have since been identified as Maj. Naomi Karungi and Pilot Cadet Bernard Wakalo, who both perished when q UPDAF Chopper Jet Ranger AF 302 in which they were flying on training mission crashed under unclear circumstances.
Samuel Ssettaala, the area district councillor, said the incident happened at around mid-day on Tuesday when the plane crashed on top of Ndlese hill in Butambala, Gomba district.
“The chopper was flying from Kampala side but shortly after it had flown past my home I heard a loud noise. I can’t tell whether after failure, the pilot wanted to turn back. All of a sudden, there was total silence,” Sssettaala said.
He added that; “I wondered what had happened to the chopper and I didn’t until I was told by locals that there had been a crash on top of the hill.”
He also revealed that; “The cards and attire the two occupants, a woman and man were donning show that they are from UPDF.”
UPDF spokesperson, Brig. Richard Karemire confirmed the incident, saying the Jet Ranger AF 302 was on a training mission before it crashed.
“It had two crew members and no one is reported to have survived but investigations into the cause of the accident have commenced,” Karemire told Spy Uganda, before adding that; “We offer our condolences to the family members and the entire UPDF fraternity.”
Who Was Major Naomi Karungi?
Maj. Karungi has been one of the few female pilots in the UPDF.
She has been flying helicopters for over 15 years since 2005.
Born in Ntungamo, Western Uganda, Karungi joined the army after completing her degree in Social Work in Economics at Makerere University.
After completion of her cadet training, she joined flying school, kicking off her career as a pilot.
She got her first training at Soroti Flying School, where she trained for three years in the Basics of Controlling and Aircrafts In-Motion.
She would later be interested by Commanders at the Entebbe Air Force Base to fly the helicopter.
She since rose to the rank of Major in the army and has been a trusted pilot for helicopters.
Major Karungi has been flying army helicopters for troop transportation and rescue within and outside Uganda.
One of the highlights of her career was when she flew President Yoweri Museveni from his country home in Rwakitura to Entebbe in 2015.