Plane crash investigation continues

2011-08-17 13:59

Polokwane - On-site investigations into the twin plane accident northeast of Tzaneen in Limpopo are continuing, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said on Wednesday.

"Our guys are still busy with on-site investigations. Part of that is going to be making arrangements to remove the wreckage," spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu said.

The Albatross aircraft took off from Tzaneen Airport in Limpopo on Sunday at 10:30. Both planes were bound for Rand Airport in Johannesburg, after participating in the Tzaneen air show. They were reported missing at 13:30 on the same day, authorities said.

Bad weather and low cloud conditions initially hampered the search on Monday.

The search for the two missing planes ended on Tuesday when the bodies were found among crash wreckage on Mamotswiri Peak.

Gwebu said indications so far were that the two aircraft, carrying six and seven passengers respectively, caught fire after crashing into the mountain.

"The speculation is based on what we found at the wreckage. Until we [are] able to prove something else we are not going to comment any further," she said.

"The purpose of the investigation is to help us come to a conclusion on what happened."

The bodies of 13 people who died in the accident were to be flown to Pretoria on Wednesday for post mortem examinations, Limpopo police said.

"The bodies also need to be identified," Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said. "Some of the bodies were burnt beyond recognition. We are going to have to do DNA testing."

Those on board the aircraft with registration ZU MMI were pilot Brian Gruar and passengers Marrion Anderson, Maddison and Alexandra Doak, Tess Spence, Louise Warden and Kevin Woolacott.

On board the other plane, registration ZS NJX, were pilot Pieter Geldenhuys, and passengers Stuart and Peter van Oldenburg, Frans Dely, Marietjie de Witt, and Linda Pierce. Dely was a well-known Johannesburg aviation photographer.

  • percyngobeli - 2011-08-17 14:27

    a sad moment in did fo mzansi...may they rest in peace.

  • Ronald - 2011-08-17 14:31

    it's still a mystery how their planes crashed,may their soul rest in peace.

      FFS - 2011-08-17 15:07

      Ronald, it actually is not much of a mystery at all. They took off into instrument meteorological conditions (cloud/overcast) and flew illegally in clouds, crashing into a mountain that was obscured by those clouds. Very simple. The only mystery to me is why anyone would make such a stupid decision.

      GB - 2011-08-17 15:29

      @FFS - Please tell me why you are not up there helping CAA with the investigation. You seem to have it wrapped up - send them home will you - could save the taxpayer a few bucks

      Timothy - 2011-08-17 15:30

      I am not even an aviator but do fly iin light aircraft a lot, even i know that the pilots made the mistake of being too confident and flying into the cloud and hence into the mountain. I feel for the families. No bopdy will ever know the 100% truth but I am sure they will get pretty close.

      FFS - 2011-08-17 16:59

      @GB Are you suggesting they both saw a huge mountain in front of them and deliberately flew into it? Or do you think that both aircraft may have experienced some sort of malfunction which caused them to fly into the mountain 50m apart? The facts are quite clear (unlike the weather on the day). To pretend otherwise is just idiotic. CAA will do an investigation as they are charged to do. That investigation will determine exactly what I said above. VFR into IMC. No VFR or IFR flight plan. Illegal flight. Gross pilot error.

      GB - 2011-08-17 18:12

      @FFS. Look I am not saying that pilot error can be ruled out. Some facts from pretty reliable sources - a)1 Pilot was IFR rated and the other not b)The IFR pilot would not have intentionally flown into IMC conditions knowing that. c)The crash site was into a hill facing AWAY from Tzaneen (is that a FACT that you knew?) d)This means they had already turned and were heading back. e)They were probably VFR when they began the turn and flew into an area of IMC. f)None of us are aware of what was going on in the cockpits at the time of the accident. g)"flew illegally into clouds". I doubt it. They were trying to remedy the situation. It is never "very simple"

      FFS - 2011-08-17 19:26

      @GB b)The IFR pilot would not have intentionally flown into IMC conditions knowing that. HE FLEW INTO A MOUNTAIN ie, he deliberately flew into cloud. He was not on an instrument flight plan, thus he was breaking the law, whether he was instrument rated or not. c)The crash site was into a hill facing AWAY from Tzaneen (is that a FACT that you knew?) This is NOT a fact. You are getting your 'facts' from the wrong sources. d)This means they had already turned and were heading back. Untrue based on the above. e)They were probably VFR when they began the turn and flew into an area of IMC. Flying into an area of IMC while not on an instrument flight plan is illegal. f)None of us are aware of what was going on in the cockpits at the time of the accident. True g)"flew illegally into clouds". I doubt it. They were trying to remedy the situation. You do not know they were trying to remedy a situation. Taking off an flying into IMC whilst not on an instrument flight plan is illegal and irresponsible. 13 people are dead because of it.

      GB - 2011-08-18 07:56

      @FFS - You seem to be confused as to the purpose of flight plans - go and do some research. Maybe be sources are wrong - we will see. At least I am prepared to wait for CAA conclusions before I crucify two dead pilots. Maybe you should too.

  • Charlie - 2011-08-17 14:37

    No matter how much investigation they do, only the people who were on board will actually know what happened! And even if a report is released as to what investigators "think" happened, it still wont bring the victims back!

  • Tomas - 2011-08-17 14:53

    Pilot error. They should have stayed in the Tzaneen airspace, circling until they reached a safe altitude, and only then proceed to Gauteng. Instead they chose to fly straight away, ascended en route. It would have worked, but with a strong tail wind, the pilots rate of ascend in comparison to the now accelarated forward speed (due to the wind), brought the faster to the mountains than they would have hoped for at that altitude. Combined with the almost zero visibility, it was bound to be a tragedy.

      Linus - 2011-08-17 15:02

      100% Tomas - CFIT - this was suicide basically by the pilots; they should have known better. Really sloppy and no planning - amazing when there should be no room for error; these guys lined up the holes in the cheese all by themselves.

      notradam - 2011-08-17 16:30

      Whatever it may have been, to pull these pilots to pieces is nothing short of callous, unfeeling and shows a truely revolting lack of compassion. It happened - there are family and friends who have to live with the most tragic of events. If you are perfect, feel free to blame the pilots, but if like everyone else on this planet you are human, keep your nastiness to yourself and spare a thought for those who are left without their loved ones.

      FFS - 2011-08-17 17:03

      @notradam When the CAA report comes out and concludes that pilot error was to blame, should they keep it to themselves too? It is not disrespectful to them to call out their error. It IS disrespectful to them and to others to pretend what is true is not true.

  • mic1900 - 2011-08-17 15:48

    it amazes me how many of these crashes are happening, and they all seem to be due to the same errors. When are these guys going to realise they are not mavericks, or ice man....its not a ONE seater, there are others involved...

  • nneteyahlaba - 2011-08-17 15:55


  • Happygas - 2011-08-17 16:19

    sad sad sad

  • paula.swarts - 2011-08-17 16:34

    May their souls rest in peace.

  • ian.d.samson - 2011-08-17 17:04

    I cannot understand why reporters are saying the crash site is "north east of Tzaneen". It cannot be! There are no peaks "north east" of Tzaneen, and Rand Airport is SOUTH WEST of Tzaneen. Please get your geography correct!

  • Izak - 2011-08-17 17:12

    The flying conditions was IFR (Instrument flight rules) and the aircraft where VFR (Visual flight rule) Aircraft. You do not fly into IFR conditions blind without the right instruments, yes this was maybe pilot error but all humans make mistakes. This is a very sad incident and my condolences to everyone involved but Airmen abroad should learn out of this. Don't take any chances mother nature can't be figured out .... R.I.P.

  • Melody - 2011-08-17 17:17

    Common practice amongst South African inexperienced pilots: Disobey VFR, descend below safety height and fly into a cloud with a hard center - end of story. Remember poor old Hansie? Midge

      FFS - 2011-08-17 17:23

      Melody, These were both HIGHLY experienced and respected pilots. It is often the more experienced pilots who take greater risks based on increasing levels of bravado and complacency.

      Megan - 2011-08-17 17:27

      These were two HIGHLY EXPERIENCED pilots - so unless you know the people, be careful of the comments. Facts are most accidents are pilot errors, no matter how much experience. There were other planes that took off on the same flight route and arrived safely using VFR. There are actual living people involved and I think people should be at least courteous to the these people and not make assumptions or speculations on things they know nothing about.

      Mikemcc - 2011-08-17 17:57

      @Megan, other aircraft arrived safely and they claim they were flying VFR when in fact most of them violated VFR minima based on their own accounts.

  • heather.nel - 2011-08-17 17:30

    There are old pilots, there are bold pilots ,BUT THERE ARE NO OLD BOLD PILOTS. Heather Nel

  • Golden - 2011-08-17 18:11

    People please STOP jumping to all sorts of conclusions without having any facts in front of you! Not only you don't have facts but also most of you speculating here,clearly have never piloted a airplane. Flying in a commercial airplane does not count. Been in possession of a valid drivers licence does not count either. You are like bunch of 19th century horse riders, trying to figure out/understand/comment at the cause of a motor vehicle accident which happened at night, where multiple vehicles were involved. And yes, it just happens that I got my ppl before I had my drivers licence. That sort off gives me the understanding to know when not to comment, unless I intend to make a fool of myself. The only thing I am going to say is: My deepest condolences to all parties involved.

      hadedah - 2011-08-25 17:27

      Hi Golden I too got my PPL before getting my drivers licence what was your licence Number mine was PA15851

  • michelle.livie - 2011-08-17 20:03

    So here's the thing... we are all professors in hindsight and it might feel good to criticize and speculate on how you would be much smarter and do things differently in a situation. My hope is that if you ever find yourself or your family in this situation, for the sake of compassion, people would reserve their 2cents opinions that (no matter how well founded they may believe them to be) could cause further hurt or pain. A number of families (including mine) are reeling from what happened and to question the integrity, skill, concern or whatever else of those involved is callous. I'm sure you are aware that at least one of the pilots had his own family on board... at the very least, a modicum of grace or "benefit of the doubt" would be appreciated.

  • Sue - 2011-08-18 12:49

    Will you please correct one of the names? The surname is Geldenhuys and NOT Gildenhuys, it's bad enough he isn't here anymore but get the name right please.

  • Grahame - 2011-08-20 21:48

    Absolutely tragic. In my view > 110% avoidable. VFR in low cloud with high peaks around ?? CFIT. Smacks of non existent planning. Pilots decided to take off, no one could force them to. Pilots have the responsibility to their paasengers and are accountable to ensure their passengers safety by taking ALL Reasonable and Practical and Suitable and Sufficient steps. Take off in closing weather and no GPS, safe routing from all hazards. PPP !! Such a pity that innocents had to ride shotgun. Really tragic wasted precious lives. RIP. Whats happening to aviation in SA?? Truly disturbing.

  • Grahame - 2011-08-20 21:53

    Absolutely mystified. What a tragic and avoidable incident.

  • hadedah - 2011-08-25 17:17

    Sorry I cannot comment on what happened Only very sorry that it went the way it did.They were very capable pilots of very high standing in the aviation world DCA will conduct the research and the findings will be possibly given to the press when they allow them to be released. everybody can jump to conclusions, But it is the right of the DCA or CAA to with hold or to divulge their findings, none of us were there to witness anything. So folk be patient and when the findings are positively concluded we will know what happened. every thing is heresay at the moment

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