Habtamu Benti was at the controls when the Ethiopian Airlines plane plunged into the Mediterranean last week.
Habtamu Benti, the pilot of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409, is believed to have died along with six other crew and 83 passengers when the plane plunged into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Lebanon. Only a few bodies have been recovered from the sea.
Most are believed to remain more than 1,300 meters below the sea’s surface in the fuselage of the plane that mysteriously veered off course after take-off from Rafiki Hariri International Airport in Beirut in the pre-dawn hours of Monday, January 25.
Habtamu, 42, was a pilot with more than 20 years experience flying for Ethiopian Airlines. He graduated from Addis Ababa University with a degree in chemistry and attended flight school before going to work for the airline. He started out flying Dash-6s on domestic flights and in his career flew the company’s Boeing 737s, 757s and 763s on domestic and international flights to the United States and to Europe and the Middle East.
Jalene Gemeda of VOA’s Afan Oromo language broadcasting in the Horn of Africa service, knew him as they grew up together in Nekemte. She interviewed several members of Habtamu’s family, his friends, colleagues at the airline and former flying school classmates. “He was perfect in his field,” one said. “This is big loss for Ethiopian Airlines. ”His older sister and a cousin, a former Academic vice president of Addis Ababa University, also talk about Habtamu in this tribute.