UN Helicopter Crash in Sierra Leone

Very bad news indeed although I believe that this is the first fatal crash involving a UN Mi-8 in Sierra Leone since November 2001. There must have been thousands of flights in this time.

I flew dozens of hours in the Russian/Ukrainian Hips, as it was the only way to get to many of the isolated villages, and have nothing but praise for the crew. On one occasion we circled a village for ten minutes, trying to find a place to land, before the Loadmaster called me to the cockpit. The co-pilot, who looked about sixteen, was flying the aircraft while the captain swigged from a Vodka bottle. Nevertheless, he eventually took control and landed the beast on a patch of ground the size of a postage stamp. We were not only the first UN troops to visit the place but the first white men most of the kids had ever clapped eyes on!

It's easy to forget that the UN has over 20,000 troops keeping the peace in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

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