How far people should stand when a helicopter lands - KCAA

As 2022 General Election campaigns gain momentum, VIPs use choppers for travel

File image of former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo beside his helicopter

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has advised members of the public to observe safety protocols around landing sites.

KCAA Director-General, Captain Gilbert Kibe has advised that the safest distance to keep during a helicopter landing is 30 metres (approximately the length of two 56-seater buses).

Capt. Kibe noted that the Authority expects an influx in the use of choppers for travel as politicians conduct their campaigns, toward the 2022 General Election to be held on August 9 this year.

"We expect an increase in air passenger movements, including VIP movement that will fly to Kisumu and its environs, and KCAA is ready for the task of managing the anticipated increased volume of air traffic.

"A minimum radius of 30 metres from where it lands or takes off should be maintained. No person or object should be within this area," the KCAA boss emphasized.

Capt. Kibe also asked operators of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), popularly known as drones, to register their gadgets with the Authority and acquire the necessary permits.

He also announced that the drones are currently in heavy use in Kenya's Western region where scientists are conducting research projects.

"KCAA anticipates an increased usage of drones within the Western Region especially for data collection and research for environmental conservation around the lake basin and other natural resources, survey and mapping, and academic research," the Director pointed out.

During the 2017 General Election, a man from Meru County clung to the landing skids of a chopper that was carrying former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, a presidential candidate at the time.

The man was seen waving to the crowd beneath as he rode dangerously on the chopper’s landing gear for several minutes before the pilot landed at a primary school's playing field.

The man, Julius Mwithalii, would later be nicknamed 'the Meru James Bond' and was arrested and charged with attempted suicide.

When asked for the reason behind his absurd action, Mwithalii said that he had wanted to follow Raila in order to be given a job since he had no means to earn a living.

He had attempted the move just a year after another man from Bungoma County pulled a similar stunt. The Bungoma man hung onto a helicopter that had transported the body of businessman Jacob Juma to his funeral.

A wealthy Kenyan businessman later offered to fly the man from Bungoma on a fully paid ride to any destination in the country.

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