Search for crew of missing helicopter continues today – GDF

bad weather hampers search and rescue

Chief of Staff Brigadier Omar Khan has disclosed The Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) search and rescue operation to locate the Bell 412 Army Helicopter (8R-AYA) and its crew members that went missing earlier Wednesday will recommence on Thursday December 7, as bad weather hampered efforts.

The chopper departed Base Camp Ayanganna at 09:23 hours on Wednesday for Arau, carrying three crew members and four passengers. At 11:20 hours, the aircraft transmitted an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) approximately 30 miles east of Arau on Guyana’s western borders.

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Charles was the pilot of the GDF Bell 41

At a press conference at Base Camp Ayanganna Wednesday evening, Brigadier Khan said that the aircraft landed at Olive Creek to refuel and shortly after its take-off communication was lost.  

He further highlighted that the activated ELT indicates either a crash landing, a hard impact or could have been triggered manually by one of the crew members.

Upon receiving the ELT, the force immediately activated a search and rescue operation involving a sky van with a team from the Special Forces and the support of an Omi-helicopter.

Colonel Michael Shahoud is the Guyana Defence Force soldier who was leading a team of soldiers to visit troops at the western border on Wednesday

“I wish to say that those efforts in the area by the two aircraft I mentioned did not yield what we were hoping for because of the bad weather conditions in the area. Search and rescue efforts has to be conducted in a safe manner … so we want to ensure that the team exercise caution,” Brigadier Khan informed.

The chopper was piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Charles under the command of Colonel Michael Shahoud, Commander of the first Infantry Battalion on a mission to visit troops on the western border.

Retired Brigadier Gary Beaton was among those onboard the GDF Bell 412 Chopper

Retired Brigadier Gary Beaton, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Welcome and Staff Sergeant Jason Khan were also part of the mission and other crew members include Lieutenant Colonel Michael Crawford and Corporal Dwayne Johnson.

“As the Chief of Staff, I remain optimistic on a number of criteria. The officers on this aircraft are among our best,” the Army Chief expressed at the press conference.