Relief in Vic Falls as mystery aircraft ceases operations

VICTORIA FALLS residents have heaved a sigh of relief after a demilitarised Zambian helicopter, which produced unbearable noise and a drone aircraft, fitted with cameras, which has been flying over the resort town, have stopped their operations in the area.

RICHARD MUPONDE
SENIOR REPORTER

The noise, which was being produced by the helicopter, a Bell Huey make, attracted the wrath of residents and tourism players in the resort town for producing unbearable noise.

The aircraft is reportedly owned by a South African operator in the neighbouring country, whose name could not be verified, but is reportedly popularly known in Zambia as “Stubborn Dutch”.

The issue was so serious that it prompted the two countries’ tourism management teams to meet in Victoria Falls last year to deliberate, among other issues, the need to reduce the noise in the conservation area before Unesco intervened.

Unesco prescribes that noise should not surpass 85 decibels for a continuous period of eight hours.

The helicopter was reportedly also regularly used by the late Zambian President Michael Sata when he was visiting the western parts of his country.

Residents were riled by a drone owned by a tour operator in Victoria Falls, which they said was a security risk as its operations were shrouded in mystery.

The helicopter was reportedly also regularly used by the late Zambian President Michael Sata when he was visiting the western parts of his country.

The helicopter was reportedly also regularly used by the late Zambian President Michael Sata when he was visiting the western parts of his country.

Residents accused the operator of spying on them and were no longer free to go about their business fearing their images were being captured by the gadget.

To add to the mystery, residents said they had no idea what the videos taken over residential places were being used for.

Reports were that the gadget flew over the falls, risking accidents, as it could interfere with helicopters from Zimbabwe and Zambia flying over the water falls, a journey known as the Flight of the Angels.

Sources in the tourism sector said the two aircraft have stopped flying over the falls and residential areas.

“The Zambian helicopter has since stopped operating and after the publication of the drone story by your paper, there was a meeting by the security sector and Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe,” a tour operator said.

“The matter is now under police investigations.

“The situation has come as a relief to tourism players and residents who were bitter over the aircraft’s operations in the resort town.”

A source in the police yesterday confirmed that the operations of the drone were under police investigations.

“The truth of the matter is that we don’t have a legislation to control those gadgets,” the policeman said.

“But if a complaint is made, we can arrest the operator for being a public nuisance.

“In this case, there was a complaint and the matter is under investigation.”

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