Claim: A video circulating on social media purportedly shows how former president, Jerry John Rawlings flew a plane under the Adomi bridge.
Verdict: False. The video in circulation is wrongly attributed. It is not from Ghana. It was from a performance by an aerobatic pilot, Jurgis Kairys in Kaunas, Lithuania in 2000.
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) even 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 fly under a bridge and then making a number of flips in the air.
Ft. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings is a legend!!!✈️ 🌉 pic.twitter.com/RaqZ3h2OOH
— Ayigbe Chop Bar❼ (@Enam__Gh) November 16, 2020
But can the video be trusted?
Using the InVID toolkit, we extracted keyframes for the video for further analysis.
In one of the frames, an art board 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”
A side by side comparison of the two photos showed a number of similarities.
From the photos, it appears that they are from same scene but were shot from different angles.
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 2000s flight achievement, 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 Adomi bridge.
Jurgis Kairys on his personal website stated that flight under the bridge in Lithuania among his achievements in the year 2000.
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.
The video is rather 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.