Ace pilot dies in crash

2010-02-22 09:07

Hoopstad – Experienced pilot Koos Coetzer, 53, died on Saturday afternoon when his Beechcraft Baron aircraft crashed near the runway outside Hoopstad.

Coetzer's plane, with which he had logged many flight hours, crashed shortly after he took off and did a fly past over the runway to say goodbye to his son, AJ.

The accident occurred right in front of AJ and another pilot, Rian Foley.

Passion for flying

Coetzer probably had more flying hours in a Beechcraft Baron than any other South African pilot, and he holds the record for taking part in the President's Trophy air race more than 20 times.

Brian Emmenis, international aviation commentator, said Coetzer's death is a great blow to the aviation community.

"He was an incredible person with a passion for flying and he always made time for others.

"He was one of the most experienced Baron pilots in South Africa. He was also probably the only pilot in South Africa who had mastered the art of low flying at air races."

Heart attack

Emmenis said rumours are to be expected after the accident, such as the possibility of mechanical problems or Coetzer having a heart attack.

"The planes are checked and tested regularly to make sure there are no problems. The accident is being investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)."

One of Coetzer's sisters, Wilma Griessel, said they believe her brother had had a heart attack.

“Just after taking off he turned and flew over the airfield to say goodbye after which the plane did not come out of its turn and crashed.”