Durban air show co-ordinator on plane

2011-08-15 16:22
Johannesburg - One of the passengers on the two light aircraft that went missing in George's Valley, Limpopo, is a Durban air show co-ordinator, organisers said on Monday.

"We will not be releasing a name out of respect to the families," Durban Air Show spokesperson Ray de Vries said in a statement.

"This has really hit the aviation family hard and we pray that they are safe somewhere."

A number of people on board were involved in the recent air show held at Virginia.

Challenging search conditions

Search and Rescue SA said the conditions were very challenging.

"The clouds are still low we can't get there. We are searching [at] low level now," said spokesperson Johnny Smit.

The Albatross planes, carrying six people each, were presumed to be in the George's Valley area, between Polokwane and Tzaneen.

They took off from a landing strip in Tarentaal, a small farming community in Tzaneen, on Sunday and were headed to Rand Airport in Germiston.

A search and rescue team was hiking to an area where a Maake community leader said he saw the two light aircraft go down, Limpopo police said on Monday afternoon.

"As soon as we got the information from the man we asked the defence force to use their helicopter to go to the village," Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

"The helicopter couldn't get through because of the weather and so we have dispatched a team of rescue personnel and police who are on the ground now."

SANDF helicopter used in search

The route was about two hours long and was not accessible by air, he said.

Overnight foot patrols had searched in Tzaneen for the two planes which went missing while returning to Gauteng after an air show there.

The air search was suspended on Monday morning because of bad weather but ground searching had continued, Smith said.

An SA National Defence Force helicopter, with a rescue team of 10, was also searching the area.
It was the only aircraft that was equipped to fly through the poor weather.

The search on Monday afternoon had moved south of Wolkberg, which is part of the Drakensberg mountain range, about 80km from Tzaneen.
- SAPA
Read more on:    polokwane  |  search and rescue  |  air crashes
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