Man who wanted to honour friend’s legacy dies tragically

Johannesburg - He wanted to honour his friend’s legacy, but then died himself.

Two close friends died days apart in separate microlight aircraft accidents, Netwerk24 reported on Thursday.

A banner with the words “RIP Wynand” might have had something to do with the fact that 44-year-old Walter de Lange’s microlight crashed  near the Springs Airport just after 17:00 on Tuesday. He died instantly.

The banner was for his friend Wynand Snyders, 50, who died on Sunday in a similar accident near Lephalale.

Snyder’s nephew, 16-year-old Jannie, sustained serious injuries.

De Lange’s wife, Liza, said Snyders’s death was a huge blow to her husband.

“The two were great friends,” she said on Wednesday at her Boksburg home.

Snyders coached De Lange’s daughter, Mia, 14, in professional shooting.

De Lange texted his wife on Tuesday to say that he was quickly going for a spin in an aircraft.

He made a banner for the flight with the words “Wynand RIP” on it.

“We believe something happened with the banner that caused the engine to fail,” said his wife Liza.

‘It all happened so fast’

She said her husband had more than five years’ experience with the microlight aircraft.

De Lange’s family has been left in shock.

“It all happened so fast. He sent an SMS shortly before he went flying and said I must tell the children he loves them.

“He was the best father, he was absolutely wonderful with the children. He was a good man... a wonderful man.”

Liza said her husband lived for flying and had wanted to be an air force pilot but his eyes were too weak.

“If he could choose a way to die, it would have been that way.”

Aviation authorities are investigating both accidents.

Meanwhile, Snyders’s nephew Jannie is doing well, his sister Magda told Netwerk24. He could breathe on his own now, she said.

“Jannie is responding well. He’s opening his eyes on his own but he’s still not out of danger yet. He can have a setback at any time.”

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