Pilot praised for landing after aneurysm

Bloemfontein - Experts say it was extreme determination that allowed a Bloemfontein pilot to land a private jet after he became paralysed on his left side during a flight.

Danie Minnie, who made the miracle landing on Sunday after suffering a brain haemorrhage, died on Wednesday.

Ernest Claassen, director of Aviation Safety Training Africa, expressed his amazement at the sheer willpower Minnie had shown to land the Cessna Citation Mustang in Bloemfontein after an aneurysm had disabled him.

Claassen is a former member of the SA Airforce and chief of the Civil Aviation Administration.

Brain dead

“It is more likely that pilots under extremely high stress and pressure, like air force pilots, might experience something like this. Especially because their planes are subject to far higher gravitational forces than commercial jets,” he said.

“In my experience, a pilot suffering an aneurysm is very rare in any event.”

An aneurysm is a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel that can burst. It can be hereditary or arise from illness.

Dr Richard Albrecht, a senior aviation doctor in Johannesburg, said commercial pilots aged over 40 have to undergo extensive medicals every six months, but no routine test would pick up an aneurysm.

Depending on where it is, an aneurysm can be treated successfully if it is diagnosed.

“However, most people only discover they have an aneurysm when it bursts, because they are so difficult to spot,” he said.

Minnie, who was declared brain dead on Tuesday, died on Wednesday, said Esmarie Cronjé, spokesperson for the Life Rosepark hospital in Bloemfontein.
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