Tag Archives: North Africa

Specially-configured Metroliner aircraft involved in surveillance operations in Libya crashes shortly after takeoff from Malta

Chilling dashcam video shows a Fairchild SA227-AT Expediter crashing after takeoff from Malta killing 5 people on board.

On Oct. 24, a twin-prop Fairchild Metroliner aircraft, in a special configuration required to undertake surveillance missions, crashed shortly after takeoff from Malta International Airport at 07.20AM LT.

The SA227-AT, painted overall grey and carrying civil registration N577MX, is one of two such aircraft (the other being N919CK, that carries a different surveillance suite) is operated by the Luxemburg-based CAE Aviation on behalf of the French government for missions in Africa.

A dashcam captured the last few seconds of the flight: the aircraft can be seen banking (seemingly to the left) before crashing into the ground in the video posted on Facebook (beware, it can be considered graphic content).

The French MoD confirmed the aircraft was involved in a surveillance operation and that three defense ministry officials and two private contractors were killed in the incident.

The aircraft was reportedly involved in tracing routes of illicit trafficking, both of humans and drugs, along the more than 1,200 km of Libyan coastline: indeed, N577MX was part of a fleet of sensor-filled planes involved in intelligence gathering missions in North Africa along with several other special missions aircraft in civil disguise (whose tracks are often exposed by their Mode-S transponders.)

Such para-military, unconventional spyplanes operate from airbases in the Mediterranean Sea (including Malta, that is one of the main operating bases considered the proximity to the area of operations) performing a wide variety of clandestine tasks, sometimes in support of special forces on the ground, including hunting ISIS terrorists.

Image credit: courtesy Ruben Zammit




"Aviation equivalent of Tutankhamun's Tomb" in Western Sahara: a perfectly preserved plane found 70 years after it went down

Polish oil company worker Jakub Perka was exploring a remote region of the Western Sahara desert in Egypt when he stumbled across a plane, later identified as a UK’s Royal Air Force P-40 Warhawk, almost intact and untouched, that went missing in 1942, during WWII.

The plane was so perfectly preserved it still had guns and ammunition, which was taken away by the Egyptian military after Jakub had reported the crash site.

There was no sign of the pilot, no body or remains within the vicinty of the aircraft. However, it is obvious that he survived the crash as his parachute was still attached to the fuselage; a sign that it was probably used as shade by the pilot whilst he waited it out.

Also the radio and batteries were found outside the plane: most probably the pilot tried to contact someone to request help, before eventually opting to walk his way out … to his death. It is though the pilots remains are situated somewhere within a 20 miles radius of the crash site with little or no hope of ever finding his body. He was unfortuate enough to have crashed some 200 miles from the nearest town, so had no chance of rescue.

The RAF airman is thought to have been Flight Sargent Dennis Copping who would have been 24 at the time of the crash. He was the son of a Dentist from Southend, Essex and was a member of 260 squadron, a fighter unit based in Egypt during the the North Africa campaign during WW2. On Jun. 28 1942, Flt Sgt Copping and another pilot were tasked with transferring two damaged P-40s from one base to another to be repaired. Most likely, during the short flight Flt Sgt Copping lost his bearings and went off course, never to be seen again.

The British Ministry of Defense is very interested in what has been dubbed as the “aviation equivalent of Tutankhamun’s Tomb”. The single seat fighter plane could be recovered, restored and then displayed at the Museum at Hendon, north London.

The MoD has requested the defense attache at the British Embassy in Cairo to travel to the crash site and gain the serial number to confirm the true identity of the plane. There are fears, however, now that everyone is aware of its existance, that locals would start to strip the aircraft of instruments and items to be sold for scrap.

Captain Paul Collins, the British defense attache to Egypt has confirmed that a search for Flight Sargent Copping’s body will be made in the hope that his remains can be found and a fully military burial performed.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Image credit: Jakub Perka via Mail Online