Officials in Dahomey have just released film of the Nigerian Air Force jet aircraft which crash-landed on the edge of a lagoon near Porto Novo on 23 June.
Officials in Dahomey have just released film of the Nigerian Air Force jet aircraft which crash-landed on the edge of a lagoon near Porto Novo on 23 June. The aircraft itself was returned to Lagos by road on 5 July.
The aircraft, a single-engined British built Provost, one of two bought by the Federal Nigerian Government shortly after the start of the civil war for training pilots, came to rest in thick vegetation on the edge of the lagoon only 300 yards (metres) from Porto Novo central police station.
The two men aboard, British pilot-instructor Michael William Thomset, and a Nigerian Navigator, Lieutenant Dare Ralph Femi, escaped without injury, apart from a few scratches.
News of the afternoon crash spread rapidly and sightseers gathered at the scene from as far away as Cotonou. They were later asked by police to disperse.
There was speculation about the nature of the flight, in the light of two incidents earlier in the month in which Dahomey claimed Nigeria had flown reconnaissance missions over Cotonou airport, and strained relations between the two countries over International Red Cross mercy flights from Dahomey into rebel Biafra.
But despite the Provost's two machine guns and its reconnaissance capability, Dahomey accepted the explanation of the two men, later confirmed by Nigeria's Information Commissioner, Chief Enahoro, that the aircraft had been on a routine training mission when it got into difficulties.
The two men were taken into custody and later told their story to a commission of inquiry. They had been thrown off course by bad weather on a flight from Port Harcourt to Lagos, where the plane was to be overhauled. Fuel failure had forced them to make a crash landing. After the inquiry the men were release and allowed to return to Nigeria.