‘Ejection seat malfunction …’

2009-11-16 00:00

CAPE TOWN — “Hydraulic malfunction. I’m bailing out. Ejection seat malfunction.”

These were the last words heard from a former air force pilot before his fighter plane crashed on Saturday at the Bredasdorp air show.

Dave Stock (46) from Hermanus, died in the accident. Rescuers found remains of his clothing about 10km from the Overberg air force base.

Stock was an experienced pilot who had completed close to 16 000 flying hours and had taken part in more than 100 air shows.

Stock was getting ready to do a display flight in an Electric Lightning jet from Thunder City in Cape Town — one of only four in the world — when it crashed.

Colonel Marius van der Heever, commander of the Overberg air force base, said the Civil Aviation Authority will investigate the accident.

“Right up until the end, Dave had communication with the tower and he was fully conscious when he crashed.”

“There were also indications that he could not eject successfully,” said Van der Heever.

Stock was well-known in flying circles.

In 2005, he set the South African speed and height record at the Ysterplaat air show by climbing up to 9 000 m in the Lightning in only one minute, 43 seconds.

British magnate Sir Richard Branson chose Stock as his pilot when he wanted to break Stock’s record in June 2006 as part of the launch of Virgin Mobile in the country. They missed the record by two seconds.

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