In Kazakhstan, Helicopter Gunship Pilots Ask Truckers For Directions

I guess this is what you do when your mark one pilotage is broken.

byTyler Rogoway|
Mi8/Mi-17 photo


We have seen all types of videos of low flying aircraft taken by dashcams in countries that were once Soviet-alligned, but this may be a first. The video below was taken in Kazakhstan and shows a convoy of truckers having the road ahead of them blocked by a Mi-8/Mi-17 gunship. At first the scene looks ominous, but then one of the helicopter pilots jumps out of the "Hip" and runs to the lead trucker's door to ask for directions to the nearest city. And once he gets pointed in the right direction, he runs back to the helo and quickly gets back into the air clearing the road for truckers to continue on their way.

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RT has provided a translation of what the men are saying in the video:

"They were lost,” says a voice on the convoy radio, failing to suppress his laughter.“He came to ask which way to Aktobe.”

“How can you get lost in the steppe? How the hell can you get lost in the steppe?”

It's not uncommon for attack helicopter pilots to land nearby the troops they are supporting, and to hop out and quickly come up with a game plan or to get clarification as to what areas need suppressing or strikes from above. But asking for directions by blocking a highway? That's seems to be something unique at least in these days of satellite navigation.

Kazakhstan's Ministry of Defense was flooded with inquiries after the video began showing up in local news sites and online. They responded saying the pilots were doing a visual flight rules exercise, which included finding their way via "human survey." They also added that the exercise was a success and that the helicopter returned to airfield in which it was based. 

It's great to hear that the Hip crew made it back safely, but I am not sure if having to land on a road and ask directions from a trucker really makes an exercise in pilotage a "success." I guess any mission you return from intact could also fit the bill, and the snow covered planes of Kazakhstan probably are a bit of challenge when it comes to low-level visual navigation. Inclement weather also doesn't help but you would think the crew would have some sort of backup navigation, even a commercial-grade GPS to help them out in a pinch. Regardless, the incident may make you look a little differently at those "low flying aircraft" road signs in the future.

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