Plane victims 'died doing what they loved'

2011-08-18 10:38

Johannesburg - The 4-year-old brother of two girls who died along with 11 others in the Albatross air disaster in Limpopo, believes they will “come back home”.

“I will look after their kittens until they come back home,” said Torin Doak to his parents, Andrew and Bronwyn Doak, on Wednesday.

Maddison, 7, and Alexandra Doak, 10, died when the Albatross plane in which they were flying crashed into mountains in the Lekgalameetse area about 40km from Tzaneen on Sunday afternoon.

The plane had been flying in formation with another Albatross. Both planes caught fire on impact.

The Albatross planes had taken part in the Tzaneen air show on Saturday and were travelling from Tzaneen airport to Rand Airport on Sunday morning.

'Nothing left'

A pilot who flew over the mountains on Wednesday said: “There is nothing left of the planes, only two black spots on the mountain.” If the planes had been 200m higher they would have flown over the high mountain peaks, he said.

“It is terrible to see how close they were to the top of the cliff,” said the pilot.

Teams from the Civil Aviation Authority are busy with an investigation.

Hannes Steyn from the Mopani district municipality’s disaster management said the two pilots did not file flight plans. There was also no official air traffic control system at Tzaneen airport.

Norman Doak, Maddison and Alexandra’s grandfather, said on Wednesday the family had been in South Africa for “a quick saying hello visit”.

The family was originally from Johannesburg but moved to Doha in Qatar for work last year.

“They were such beautiful children. We are dead inside,” he said.

Maddison and Alexandra flew with their mother's uncle, Brian Gruar, to the Tzaneen air show on Saturday.

“Brian was a very experienced pilot with more than 30 years’ experience,” said Doak. Gruar owned one of the Albatrosses. His friend, Marrion Anderson, also died in the accident.


The little girls’ mother was hysterical when she was told about their deaths.

Dave Protter, head of the Tzaneen community policing forum, which provided counselling to the families, said: “The Doaks are devastated and angry at God.”

President Jacob Zuma also conveyed condolences to all 13 victims' next of kin. Their remains were taken from Tzaneen to Pretoria on Wednesday. The post-mortems will be held there.

Charles Urban, a friend of most of the deceased, said on Wednesday that everybody had enjoyed Saturday’s air show in Tzaneen. “They were all passionate about aviation.”

Urban left for Johannesburg in another plane 30 minutes before the two Albatrosses left on Sunday morning.

Andrea Pace, a friend of Pieter van Oldenborgh, who was on the second Albatross, said she couldn’t believe it at first when both planes went missing on Sunday.

“I was in a trance and thought such things only happened on the History TV channel, but deep inside I knew…”

Van Oldenborgh and Urban were the owners of the Albatross with the registration number ZU-NJX. Peter Gildenhuys was its pilot.

Van Oldenborgh’s son, Stuart, 14, a Grade 9 pupil at the St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown, also died.

Pace said she suspected the pilots thought they were in a valley.

“They probably decided to climb out over the low-lying clouds and made a mistake. I believe they were in the clouds and didn’t realise what was happening.

“They died doing what they loved.”

  • saabnut - 2011-08-18 10:42

    RIP and strength to the families. - 2011-08-18 12:39

      Who's the chop that always gives the thumbs down? really, right a comment so we know who the heartless idiot is!

      Charlie - 2011-08-18 13:05

      Some idiot who has nothing better to do!

  • Nawe - 2011-08-18 10:50

    Guys, what happened here is really a sad chapter in our aviation history. I think the time is ripe for us to move on and start concentrating on other serious issues, like crime, poverty and economic inequality in the country. Gezzz!

      Lynn - 2011-08-18 11:24

      go toyi toyi

      Komasa - 2011-08-18 11:26

      @Nawe why are you out of your depth?

      Opinionated - 2011-08-18 11:49

      How about you go ahead and move on, and allow everyone else to dwell on it as long as they deem necessary.... People will stay interested until there is some kind of closure or perhaps some idea as to what happened. Keep in mind that when your family/friends die, people would not be telling you to rather worry about crime and more important matters.

      Benzo - 2011-08-18 14:18

      Can we say the same about apartheid...please?

      m - 2011-08-18 16:23

      Move on??? Really, I'm rather willing to move on from issues such as poverty, due to the fact that in SA, the farmer's who are providing food, are being slaughtered! If you do not want to read this, then don't, but show respect. This is a tragedy larger than the whole stupid Africa all together! These were passionate, very talented people.

  • jeremy - 2011-08-18 11:01

    The two pilots were very experienced, one with more than 30 years as a pilot. Yet neither filed a flight plan - and both flew too low in cloud in an area of high ground. This, presumably, is pilot error pure and simple - and I get the impression it indicates the need for flight regulations to be tightened considerably. My heart goes out to the families, particularly the family of the two young girls. I know how I;d feel if it was my eight-year-old daughter on either of the two aircraft....

      Veloci Raptor - 2011-08-18 12:01

      I, as a pilot, find your understanding very simplistic...You can have regulations governing every aspect of aviation, which there are, and if the pilots neglect to follow them, the fault is not the regulations, but the pilots.

      Propjockey - 2011-08-18 12:21

      Yep. VFR (visual flight rules) demand that you stay in visual contact with the ground at ALL times. When you loose this contact you are OBLIGED to turn around to regain contact, even if it means going back to your point of departure. In VFR no flight plan is required, but IF YOU CHOOSE you can make contact with the Controller of the airspace you are in and explain your intentions. You are then 'controlled' and handed over to the next area. But this costs, so MANY pilots ignore airspace control, and carry on regardless. Pilot Error is the only conclusion that this investigation can reach. They should AT LEAST have had intimate topographical knowledge of their chosen route to Rand. Then they COULD have taken a chance on the weather clearing later in the flight - but they would have been ABOVE any obstacle in their way. RIP.

      bernard.procter - 2011-08-18 12:35

      A flight plan is not required when flying from an unmanned airport and also it's not like our skies in SA are overcrowded that every flight needs a plan - there are rules governing IFR/VFR flight for altitudes depending on flight path etc. Flying too low could have been the result of dramatic change in atmospheric pressure which the altimeter relies on and will end up giving a wrong reading - I'd suspect this as neither plane seems to have found the need for correcting altitude. Anyway all speculation - let's wait for the report from the aviation authorities.

      Windlass - 2011-08-18 12:52

      Done some flying myself on VFR and apart from making sure the ground is visible at all times there are 2 specific rules that are hammered by all instructors during training. Air Speed and Altitude. For two extremely experienced pilots who must have surely been in contact with each other to both make the same error escapes me. There is a lesson to be learnt here especially for those who fly. Don’t let that experience catch up with you. We sometimes tend to let our guard drop a little.

      Christo - 2011-08-18 14:32

      Thank you bernard.procter and propjockey for adding a bit of sense to this discussion. Journalists always have to mention "No flight plan was filed" as if that clarifies the whole cause of the accident. A flight plan is merely a document informing the control tower at your destination airport to expect you at a certain time and to start looking for you if you do not arrive. It has very little to do with planning the flight. It is not a requirement to file a flight plan if you depart from an uncontrolled airport. Unfortunately most pilots do neglect their flight planning. They just insert the airport designator into the GPS which draws a line for them to follow to their destination. Most aircraft in this country have only basic GPS equipment which does not show terrain or weather on the display. It is up to the pilot to consult the sectional map and make sure what the minimum safe altitude for the route will be. These were not inexperienced pilots and they probably did consult the sectional before departing to the airshow. Chances are however that they did not take the maps with them on the flight. It does not create a good impression if you consult a big paper map with a load of passengers in the back. It is however essential for a safe flight. So you have low cloudbase, a slight altimeter error, pressure to get home and not lose face in front of the passengers, no updated terrain information and the accident chain is set up. Unfortunately this scenario repeats often in RSA.

      Bra Pat - 2011-08-18 16:46

      thank u guys this open my mind a bit about aviation,

      jevoixtout - 2011-08-18 17:13

      @ Christo. Why would it not create a good impression to consult a paper map when flying. That is a daft statement to make. Next you will be telling all and sundry that it is not a good idea to consult your let- down plate just in case the passengers see you doing this. As for the altimeter error, yeah rait.

  • No27 - 2011-08-18 11:17

    I was gripped by this story when it broke and prayed so hard for them to be found safe. I hope that Maddison and Alexandra's parents find some peace at a later stage, it's too raw at the moment. Beautiful girls gone too soon. They are together and happy and would want the same for their parents. Will keep you all in my prayers.

  • Nicola - 2011-08-18 11:28

    This is such a sad event. I wish the families strength

  • jsvw - 2011-08-18 11:40

    “They died doing what they loved.” I am sure that they would rather loved to be alive than to die for what they loved. RIP and may all the families find the strength they need.

      Richard - 2011-08-18 11:58

      For every hour spent flying, you live 10! Most people die after 75 years having never lived.....

  • Nawe - 2011-08-18 11:54

    So when we African dwell about Aparthied we seein as soft and 'people'' that was dwell on the past right? Now we have an incident though tragic but definitely doesn't deserve the amount of attention its bn afforded, the whole country must be subjected to this story and ignore the number of challenging issues facing the country today. I.E why 70% of CEO remain white males, Why 80% of the economy is been owned by 20% of the population, Those issues must be ignored right? How many blacks kids die each day? TSEK!

      saabnut - 2011-08-18 12:05

      Why must we self- respecting folk in this country be subjected (your word, not mine) to the raping, pillaging and plundering of hard earned resources, so that you and your fellow nobs can keep voting them into power. One of the biggest challenges is you and you comrades' total lack of value of human life. Get lost, go and worship your idiotic, fictional ancestors, and leave people with a sense of self pride in peace to grieve.

      vtowntekkie - 2011-08-18 12:06

      You are a real ass!

      Astaroth - 2011-08-18 12:07

      @nawe: #1: Piss off. #2: While pissing off, go learn how to use spell check. Idiot. You are what's wrong with this country...

      Andrew - 2011-08-18 12:14

      The simple reason for 70% CEO being white is because they still know what they are doing. Imagine having the Zuma and Mandela boys running good white business ..... would wreck them in 2 years, while not paying staff. You are highjacking a thread, go start your own. Please google the "Dunning - Kruger effect" it perfectly describes where you are?

      Nipcat - 2011-08-18 12:34

      Get a life! With the risk of being shouted down - is only black life valuable? This is a tragic accident, for once not caused by criminals.

      Tolerant - 2011-08-18 14:03

      Rather dwell on the raping of the country by ANC cadres. As long as people make profit for a company, pay taxes and fullfull the law of the land they are fine. We should also dwell on reasons why 50% of black youths are unemployd despite laws that should help them finding jobs.

      Senjo - 2011-08-18 15:17

      If you don't think this story is worth dwelling on then why the hell are you reading it??? I am sure you can find other articles to read that will satisfy your racist appetite. Get off this thread, idiot.

      Patrick Denyssen - 2011-08-18 15:56

      Nawe you're a f ing tosser. who do you work for dickhead?

  • Astaroth - 2011-08-18 12:07


  • Sue - 2011-08-18 12:14

    Cant you please correct a surname? It is Pieter Geldenhuys and not Gildenhuys. Thankyou

  • Julia55 - 2011-08-18 12:24

    The heading implies that all the victims died doing what they loved best. I think that only pertains to the pilots and not the other people on the planes that were passengers, including 3 young lives.

      Nipcat - 2011-08-18 12:36

      You are being pedantic.

      BOFFINBOB - 2011-08-18 12:43

      Julia55...Well said. This " died doing what they loved " cliche is overused & under justified. A load of bollocks. They died terribly & had a few seconds of terrible fear as the crash happened.

  • Strudle - 2011-08-18 13:03

    "They died doing what they loved." ?????? Pity they took all those other men, women and children with them!!

  • Beverley - 2011-08-18 13:36

    Norman Gruar ,grandfather and brother, you lost not only two granddaughters but a brother as well - nothing can describe the pain you are feeling, I see it in your eyes I hear it in your voice I have seen your tears and yet I am powerless to help you. I love you with all my heart my Angel, lean on me you do not have to be strong, we have gone through so much together and together we will get through this. God is with us every step of the way. Beverley

  • Brainbow - 2011-08-18 14:17

    There is one fact that will hold true throughout the investigations: THE PILOTS NEVER EVER INTENDED TO CRASH INTO THE PEAKS. Let us pray for the families and loved ones.

      jevoixtout - 2011-08-18 17:21

      So true. That is the last thing any pilot INTENDS to do. However this happens way to frequently. And when it does happen one finds there were a few other options to avoid this. My heart goes out to all the families. May you find peace.

  • Doeks - 2011-08-18 14:48

    Dying doing what they loved? News 24, If I had to die doing what I loved I'd die a thousand times over. Peace be to them......

  • Miss Jones - 2011-08-18 15:29

    Sad story indeed, but black people die in high numbers in bus/taxi accidents all the time and its news for a day only, now 13 white people die and its news for the entire week. c'mon, move on already!!

      me - 2011-08-18 15:47

      you are absolutly disgusting!!!!! its news for a day only because the taxi's are death vehicles on their own and the way they drive they WANT to kill their passengers!!!! move on already!!! why dont you move on about this whole apratheid nonsence FUNNY that involved whites but your dragging it on for 17 years!!!! get a life you dumb idiot

      pierreedge - 2011-08-18 16:04

      Funny, i was thinking the same thing miss jones. amazing all the cyber ink poured over this really, with several articles and for each article hundreds of posts of sympathy from people who didnt even know those high flyers. Yet these poor 6 people had 2 posts only who didnt have a choice and were didnt die doing what they loved but because they couldnt afford a private plane...

      Miss Jones - 2011-08-18 16:06

      @me, Apartheid was dragged on for than 300 years, it’s too soon for me to even think of letting it go, give me another 200years. As for the taxi and bus comment, shows how much of a bigger idiot u really are by implying that just because taxi drivers drive crap then the passengers deserve to die. Unlike u, some of us were not left with 100acres of land to start lodges and buy cars for our 2 yr olds, we don’t have a choice but to use public transport to come clean ur as* u moron.

      Daemos1 - 2011-08-18 16:22

      Actually, plane-crash related deaths are less frequent than road deaths, so there is a higher fascination factor, this isn't a race issue, it's a human issue, chill guys, it's almost Friday.

      Astaroth - 2011-08-18 16:36

      @Miss Jones: Please explain your statement "Apartheid was dragged on for than 300 years, it’s too soon for me to even think of letting it go, give me another 200years". How do you get to this number? ps: You need to put a "more" infront of "than 300 years".

      Senjo - 2011-08-18 16:41

      Miss Jones, I don't believe the story has gotten so much attention because the passengers were white, it's because of the unlikelihood of the accident. People (of all races) die in car accidents all the time because more people drive than fly. About 50 people (of all races) are murdered everyday in SA & not all those cases get reported in papers. When my aunt was shot in her neck during a house robbery (& by some miracle survived) the police didn't even take a statement from her, nevermind it being mentioned in the press...

      pierreedge - 2011-08-18 17:06

      Well, air transport crashes are not that uncommon around here it seems anymore, that's the fifth one this year that i recall. There was the Plettenberg beginning of the year, the Louis Trichardt one, the police helicopter, the light one in Elliotdale in june... I think i will avoid flying with a south african pilot from now on, specially on small planes

  • Phumzile - 2011-08-18 15:35

    So sad condolence to the family

  • Daemos1 - 2011-08-18 16:17


  • Albert - 2011-08-18 16:53

    Surely they had a GPS and a chart which would have shown all the high peaks. If they plotted their GPS position, they would have known where the dangers lurked.

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