Co-pilot of doomed Nepal flight lost her pilot husband in 2006 plane crash

The co-pilot of the flight that crashed in Nepal Sunday, killing at least 68 people on board, was the wife of a pilot who lost his life in a plane crash nearly 17 years ago.

Anju Khatiwada, 44, joined Nepal’s Yeti Airlines in 2010, following in the footsteps of her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, who was killed four years prior when the small passenger plane he was piloting for the air carrier crashed minutes before landing.

On Sunday, Khatiwada was in the co-pilot’s chair on a Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu that went down into a gorge as it approached the city of Pokhara, in what was Nepal’s deadliest aviation disaster in three decades.

No survivors have been found so far among the 68 passengers and four crew members.

Yeti Airlines spokesman Sudarshan Bartaula confirmed that Khatiwada’s husband died in 2006 in a crash of a Twin Otter plane in the city of Jumla.

“She got her pilot training with the money she got from the insurance after her husband’s death,” Bartaula added.

A pilot with more than 6,400 hours of flying time, Khatiwada had previously flown the popular tourist route from Kathmandu to the country’s second-largest city, Pokhara.

The body of Kamal K.C., the captain of the plane, who had more than 21,900 hours of flight time, has been recovered from the wreckage and positively identified.

Kathiwada’s remains have not been identified but she is feared dead, Bartaula said.

“On Sunday, she was flying the plane with an instructor pilot, which is the standard procedure of the airline,” said an unnamed Yeti Airlines official, who knew Khatiwada personally.

“She was always ready to take up any duty and had flown to Pokhara earlier,” said the official.

The ATR-72 aircraft that Khatiwada was co-piloting rolled from side to side before crashing in a gorge near the newly opened airport and catching fire, according to eyewitness accounts and a harrowing video of the crash posted on social media.

Authorities on Monday recovered the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the aircraft, which may help investigators determine what caused it to crash in clear weather.

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