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Video of Rawlings flying under Adomi bridge? No, it’s not him!

Jerry John Rawlings 3 mins read

Claim: A video circulating on social media purportedly shows how former president, Jerry John Rawlings, flew a plane under the Adomi bridge. 

False. The video in circulation is not from Ghana. It was from a performance by an aerobatic pilot, Jurgis Kairys in Kaunas, Lithuania in 2000.

Full text

One of the very intriguing stories many people have been told about the life and times of former President Jerry John Rawlings, who died on Thursday, November 12, 2020, is about how as a Flight Lieutenant of the Ghana Armed Forces, he supposedly flew a plane in a spectacular way under the Adomi bridge in the Eastern Region. 

The veracity of the story is doubted by some people with a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Commodore Kwame Korankye Pumpuni (Rtd) saying in a radio interview in January 2020 that the story was false and that Rawlings never did such a thing. 

On Monday, November 16, 2020 we noticed the circulation of a video on social media that was meant to buttress the point that Rawlings indeed flew a plane under the Adomi bridge.

The 28-second video shows a plane flying under a bridge and then making a number of flips in the air. 

‘Ft. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings is a legend!!!’ the caption of one post reads.

But is it really the late former president flying the aircraft in the video? 

Verification

Using the InVID toolkit, we extracted keyframes for the video for further analysis.

In one of the frames, an artboard displayed on the handrail of the bridge had the inscription “rytas” written on it. 

Following up with the inscription and other relevant keywords in an advanced Google search, we found related images such as this on Reddit which was shared on May 31, 2019. 

It was captioned: “Jurgis Kairys performing inverted flight under bridge 2000.SEP.02”

However, a side by side comparison of the two photos showed a number of similarities. 

C:\Users\Jonas\Desktop\Plane show.jpg.png

Both photos appear that they are from the same scene shot from different angles. 

The photo has also been shared on various websites including here and here

All the publications named one J. Kairys as the pilot behind that flight. 

This report by Lithuanian news website, 8diena, commented on the photo as follows: 

“Many Lithuanians still remember the 2000s, when J. Kairys performed an unprecedented acrobatic trick with his Su-26 – the pilot flew under the pedestrian bridge in Kaunas, turning the plane up in wheels.”

Through a specific Google search on the pilot and his flight achievements in 2000, we found a YouTube video that names Jurgis Kairys as the pilot. The video matches the viral one claimed to be Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings flying under the Adomi bridge. 

Jurgis Kairys on his personal website stated that flight under the bridge in Lithuania among his achievements in the year 2000.   

Conclusion

The evidence gathered indicates that the viral video shared on social media claiming to be a flight under Adomi bridge by President Jerry John Rawlings is false. 

Rather, the video is of 68-year-old Lithuanian aerobatic pilot, Jurgis Kairys, performing an inverted under bridge flight in Kaunas, Lithuania in 2000. 

The reporter, Jonas Nyabor, produced this fact-check under the auspices of the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship in partnership with Citinewsroom to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and to enhance media literacy in the country.

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