UPDATE: Sokol loses control, crashes in Marawi
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 7, 2014 - 7:03pm

MANILA, Philippines - Two persons were hurt after a Sokol helicopter carrying an Army general and providing escort to two cabinet officials crashed in Marawi City Thursday afternoon, officials said.

Reports reaching Camp Aguinaldo said the ill-fated aircraft crashed at 2:23 p.m. upon its take off at the 103rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Marawi City.

The helicopter, a backup for another Sokol carrying Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, reportedly lost control after it was struck by heavy winds.

The helicopter that crashed was carrying 4th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Ricardo Visaya, 4th Infantry Division Inspector-General Col. Alexander Macario, five staff members of Gazmin and four crew members, including two pilots.

“As a result of the crash, one crew from the chopper was wounded in action while another civilian was injured,” Armed Forces public affairs chief Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said.

Cpt. Franco Suelto identified the wounded persons as Air Force S/Sgt. Darius Valdes and Santiago Savedra.

The other Sokol carrying Gazmin and Roxas arrived safely at the Langundingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro at about 3:13 p.m.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Catapang has ordered Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Delgado to determine the cause of the accident.

Visaya said he was in Marawi to accompany Gazmin, Roxas and Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla as they try to solve the power problems in the area.

He said the helicopter appeared to have difficulties flying about two to three minutes after it took off. The helicopter was about 50 feet from the ground when the problem manifested.

“The helicopter turned left and then crashed. It did not explode so no one among us died,” Visaya said.

The government acquired a total of eight Sokol combat utility helicopters worth P2.8 billion from Polish firm PZL-?widnik S.A. The package includes ground support equipment, spare parts, support services and training for aircrew and maintainers.

The first batch, which consisted of four helicopters, arrived in February 2012 while the second batch, which consisted of two Sokols, was delivered nine months later. The final batch composed of two helicopters arrived February last year.

In July 2013, one of the Sokol helicopters experienced technical problems and was stuck in Camp Aguinaldo for five days.

The helicopter with tail number 310925 was supposed to be one of the two air assets that would bring the delegation of Gazmin and then Armed Forces chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista to the Air Force’s 66th anniversary rites in Clark, Pampanga.

The aircraft, however, experienced a technical glitch and had to make a precautionary landing.

The Air Force claimed that the problem stemmed from a weak battery but claimed that it was just “a minor discrepancy.” 

AIR FORCE AIR FORCE S ALEXANDER MACARIO ARMED FORCES CAMP AGUINALDO DARIUS VALDES AND SANTIAGO SAVEDRA DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE GAZMIN AND INTERIOR SECRETARY MAR ROXAS EMMANUEL BAUTISTA FRANCO SUELTO GAZMIN
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