Friends, family stunned by airshow pilot’s death in fiery crash

2012-07-02 00:00

KLERKSDORP — Maria Christina Cicogna Mozzoni walked slowly across blackened veld on Saturday afternoon, picking up little pieces of the plane in which her husband was killed hours earlier.

Gianfranco Cicogna Mozzoni (49) died when his private Aero L-39 Albatros crashed into the ground in front of spectators at the Klerksdorp Airshow.

Mozzoni was flying in formation with team-mate Charles Urban. Experts speculated that he may have got caught in the other plane’s slipstream, which would have caused his Czech-built jet’s engine to lose power because of a lack of air.

The high-performance jet trainer burst into flames when it hit the ground. Its engine was found later in a nearby cemetery, and other debris was spread over a wide area.

Spectators said the plane was flying low when it seemed to pitch to one side and then dive.

An elderly woman was still in hospital yesterday after suffering a heart attack from shock when she saw the accident.

The airshow continued about an hour after the crash, with MC Brian Emmenis saying: “The show must go on.” He wished the other pilots good luck in the difficult circumstances, and said continuing was “what our friend would have wanted”.

After the accident, Urban, his eyes red from tears, paid tribute to his friend, with whom he had flown since 2005.

“What can I say? He died doing what he loved. He has an unbelievable passion for flying.”

Mossoni’s wife studied little bits of the wreckage, fighting for composure, while friends and family supported her and asked that no photographs be taken. She does not speak good English and they asked that the media not try to interview her.

The couple had two children, who were not present.

Investigators from the Civil Aviation Authority were on the scene until dark.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu said yesterday the cause of the accident had not yet been determined.

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