Plane crash site located with help of cellphone tracking and GPS

2013-12-06 00:00

THE plane crash site in which David Grosvenor (46) from Hillcrest and Alick Rennie (60) from Pietermaritzburg died was located with the help of cellphone tracking and GPS technology.

The police said the GPS co-ordinates of one of the pilots’ cellphones led them to a farm in Richmond on Wednesday night, but they could not locate the exact spot of the wreckage in sugar cane lands due to heavy rain and bad visibility.

“We were here,” said the officer pointing a few metres away from the crash site. “We could have been standing right next to it and we would not have seen it.”

A source at the scene said it seemed the plane had crashed nose first, deep inside the sugar cane fields at Burnside farm in Eston.

A pilot, who spoke to The Witness and asked not to be named, said the accident could have been as a result of one of the training moves. He said in a flying test there were two mandatory moves. “You have to practise stalling the aircraft from 3 000 feet, giving yourself plenty of time to recover and you have to do a forced landing, by gliding right down and then flying up again. Who’s to say what went wrong, but it must have been a catastrophic fault, maybe engine failure.”

Police at the scene said the alarm was raised at around 5 pm on Wednesday after the two pilots failed to return to the Pietermaritzburg airport.

“Their fuel range was three hours … They left at around 12 pm and should have been back by 3 pm. Search and rescue was launched when they did not return and the control tower in Pietermaritzburg could not get them on the radio or pick them up on radar and their families were concerned,” said the officer.

The plane was found in the early hours of yesterday morning by another pilot, who was looking for it from the air.

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