News24.com | Pilot (85), friend killed in crash

News24.com | Pilot (85), friend killed in crash
News24.com | Pilot (85), friend killed in crash

An octogenarian pilot and his woman friend died when their plane crashed into a mountain near Vryheid while on a joyride on Sunday.

The pilot (85), whose name is known to The Witness, had taken his 82-year-old woman friend on an excursion in the skies at the weekend when the tragedy occurred.

Provincial police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said although the crash occurred on Sunday, the wreckage of the aircraft was only found early on Monday morning by a Vryheid farmer.

Zwane could not confirm where the couple were from as he said the police were waiting for the next of kin to come forward.

“A local farmer at Vryheid noticed something on the mountain and went to investigate. He found that it was a light aircraft that crashed,” he said.

“Two bodies were found burnt and police were called to attend.”

He said a case of culpable homicide was opened at Vryheid police station.

Zwane added that the cause of the crash is thought to be misty conditions on Sunday afternoon.

Fellow aviators around the province said the man had been the oldest pilot to fly in a fixed wing aircraft in the country.

South African Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba said as soon as the authority was notified of the crash, a team of investigators were sent to establish the possible cause of the accident.

“Details are still sketchy at this point, however, we can confirm that the wreckage was discovered this morning on a farm about 15 km from the Vryheid airport,” he said.

“The type of aircraft involved in this accident is known as the Taylorcraft [model BC 12-D].”

Ledwaba said that investigations into plane crashes can vary in complexity and might take time to complete.

He said the completion of any investigation is marked by the release of a final accident report, which contains safety recommendations aimed at improving the levels of safety and preventing a similar accident.

Ledwaba added that all pilots are expected to have a valid pilot’s licence and be medically fit in order to fly.

Investigations are ongoing.

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