Plane cuts woman in half while landing

2012-03-28 00:00

A LIGHT aircraft landing at the ­Ermelo airfield cut a woman in half as she was trying to run across the runway.

Malcolm Wushard, a local pilot, collided with one of three women running across the runway at about 11 am on Monday, police said.

Police spokesperson Captain Carla Prinsloo said preliminary investigations found that the women appeared to be collecting wood in a plantation near the airfield.

“They apparently decided to take a shortcut across the runway, but one of the women misjudged the situation and was struck by the left wing of the aircraft,” Prinsloo said yesterday.

The woman, who is thought to be in her late fifties, was struck by the left wing of Wushard’s aircraft.

Prinsloo said the police were still waiting for the victim’s family to come to Ermelo to identify her and the autopsy would presumably take place today.

The police have begun a judicial inquiry into the death, and the incident was also brought to the attention of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Wushard was unhurt, but the wing and one of the wheels of the aircraft were apparently damaged.

CAA spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu yesterday confirmed the incident, but said it was too early to comment.

“I can confirm that the CAA is investigating the incident,” she said.

“We have already sent an investigation team to Ermelo.”

Gwebu confirmed that the airfield was fenced off, but said it was impossible at this stage to comment on how the three pedestrians were able to gain access to it.

Since the incident pilots have been complaining on online chat forums about pedestrians, and even livestock, that move around on some rural airfields as a result of poor maintenance of fences.

One of the pilots pointed out, however, that the Ermelo airfield fences were well maintained.

But he said local pedestrians had erected ladders on both sides of the airfield and regularly climbed over the fences in order to be able to cross the runway.

One of his colleagues added that he recently almost struck five people who were sitting in a circle drinking on the runway of the Vanderbijlpark airfield.

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