Plane victims 'died doing what they loved'

2011-08-18 10:38
Johannesburg - The 4-year-old brother of two girls who died along with 11 others in the Albatross air disaster in Limpopo, believes they will “come back home”.

“I will look after their kittens until they come back home,” said Torin Doak to his parents, Andrew and Bronwyn Doak, on Wednesday.

Maddison, 7, and Alexandra Doak, 10, died when the Albatross plane in which they were flying crashed into mountains in the Lekgalameetse area about 40km from Tzaneen on Sunday afternoon.

The plane had been flying in formation with another Albatross. Both planes caught fire on impact.

The Albatross planes had taken part in the Tzaneen air show on Saturday and were travelling from Tzaneen airport to Rand Airport on Sunday morning.

'Nothing left'


A pilot who flew over the mountains on Wednesday said: “There is nothing left of the planes, only two black spots on the mountain.” If the planes had been 200m higher they would have flown over the high mountain peaks, he said.

“It is terrible to see how close they were to the top of the cliff,” said the pilot.

Teams from the Civil Aviation Authority are busy with an investigation.

Hannes Steyn from the Mopani district municipality’s disaster management said the two pilots did not file flight plans. There was also no official air traffic control system at Tzaneen airport.

Norman Doak, Maddison and Alexandra’s grandfather, said on Wednesday the family had been in South Africa for “a quick saying hello visit”.

The family was originally from Johannesburg but moved to Doha in Qatar for work last year.

“They were such beautiful children. We are dead inside,” he said.

Maddison and Alexandra flew with their mother's uncle, Brian Gruar, to the Tzaneen air show on Saturday.

“Brian was a very experienced pilot with more than 30 years’ experience,” said Doak. Gruar owned one of the Albatrosses. His friend, Marrion Anderson, also died in the accident.

Devastated


The little girls’ mother was hysterical when she was told about their deaths.

Dave Protter, head of the Tzaneen community policing forum, which provided counselling to the families, said: “The Doaks are devastated and angry at God.”

President Jacob Zuma also conveyed condolences to all 13 victims' next of kin. Their remains were taken from Tzaneen to Pretoria on Wednesday. The post-mortems will be held there.

Charles Urban, a friend of most of the deceased, said on Wednesday that everybody had enjoyed Saturday’s air show in Tzaneen. “They were all passionate about aviation.”

Urban left for Johannesburg in another plane 30 minutes before the two Albatrosses left on Sunday morning.

Andrea Pace, a friend of Pieter van Oldenborgh, who was on the second Albatross, said she couldn’t believe it at first when both planes went missing on Sunday.

“I was in a trance and thought such things only happened on the History TV channel, but deep inside I knew…”

Van Oldenborgh and Urban were the owners of the Albatross with the registration number ZU-NJX. Peter Gildenhuys was its pilot.

Van Oldenborgh’s son, Stuart, 14, a Grade 9 pupil at the St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown, also died.

Pace said she suspected the pilots thought they were in a valley.

“They probably decided to climb out over the low-lying clouds and made a mistake. I believe they were in the clouds and didn’t realise what was happening.

“They died doing what they loved.”
 
Read more on:    polokwane  |  air crashes
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