SAAF plane missing over Drakensberg

2012-12-05 23:35
Dakota (Picture: Beeld)

Dakota (Picture: Beeld)

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Military plane crashes in Drakensberg

2012-12-06 11:50

The SANDF military aircraft that crashed into the Drakensberg has been linked to Mandela by CNN. Watch.WATCH

Cape Town - A South African Air Force aircraft went missing over the Drakensberg Mountain in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

The plane - an SAAF Air Force DC3 or C-47TP aircraft of 35 Squadron, a type of aircraft known fondly in local aviation circles as the Dakota - was en route from Waterkloof Air Force Base to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

There were initial reports that the plane was carrying former president Nelson Mandela's medical team. The SANDF later denied this.

The route is used weekly by the medical team looking after Mandela's health in Qunu, according to eNCA news.

It was reported that 11 people were on board when the DC3 went missing.

According to aviation website "reports state that the aircraft last communicated with air traffic control when above Giants Castle in the Drakensberg Mountains, stating that they were at 11 000 feet and flying in Instrument Meteorological Conditions due to the bad visibility.

"The aircraft never arrived at Mthatha Airport."

It is believed the aircraft left Waterkloof at 08:00 on Wednesday morning. The alarm was raised at 12:00 when it failed to arrive in Mthatha.

SAAF spokesperson Xolani Mabanga confirmed that a search and rescue operation has been launched and will resume at first light on Thursday morning.

The search has been narrowed down using triangulation based on cellphone signals of 3 of the passengers on board.

An Oryx helicopter from Bloemfontein was tasked to search for the missing aircraft, but had to abandon the search due to the very bad weather in the area. Farmers in the area have also been contacted to help with the search.

Just last month a Dakota made a hard landing at Mthatha airport.

The Dakota is a WWII vintage aircraft which does not normally have a black box or emergency radio beacons.

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Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  aviation  |  search and rescue
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