Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, a Nigerian Airforce pilot, has been rescued after armed bandits shot down a Nigerian Airforce Alpha Jet aircraft in Zamfara State.
Dairo was returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna states when the aircraft came under attack and crashed, according to Nigerian Air Force Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, who confirmed the crash in a statement on Monday.
He claimed that Dairo escaped by ejecting from the plane before it crashed, and that when he landed, armed bandits pursued him.
“On July 18, 2021, around 12.45 p.m., a Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet aircraft, returning from a successful air interdiction mission between the borders of Zamfara and Kaduna states, came under heavy enemy fire, resulting in its crash in Zamfara State,” Gabkwet said.
“Fortunately, the aircraft’s brave pilot, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, was able to successfully evacuate from the plane.
The pilot, who came under heavy ground fire from the bandits, used his survival skills to elude them and seek refuge in surrounding settlements until sunset.
Flight Lieutenant Dairo eluded multiple bandits’ strongholds and made his way to a Nigerian Army Unit, where he was finally rescued, using the cover of darkness and his phone as guidance.
“It is essential to note that, upon receiving word of the disaster, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, the Chief of Air Staff, commanded that all efforts be made to rescue the pilot.”
NAF Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance platforms and helicopter gunships, according to Gabkwet, 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 searching nearby locations for any sign of the pilot.
“It’s heartening to learn that, while in hiding, Flight Lieutenant Dairo confirmed the presence of NAF aircraft in the area,” he said.