SAAF plane missing over Drakensberg

2012-12-05 23:35

Cape Town - A South African Air Force aircraft went missing over the Drakensberg Mountain in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

The plane - an SAAF Air Force DC3 or C-47TP aircraft of 35 Squadron, a type of aircraft known fondly in local aviation circles as the Dakota - was en route from Waterkloof Air Force Base to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.

There were initial reports that the plane was carrying former president Nelson Mandela's medical team. The SANDF later denied this.

The route is used weekly by the medical team looking after Mandela's health in Qunu, according to eNCA news.

It was reported that 11 people were on board when the DC3 went missing.

According to aviation website "reports state that the aircraft last communicated with air traffic control when above Giants Castle in the Drakensberg Mountains, stating that they were at 11 000 feet and flying in Instrument Meteorological Conditions due to the bad visibility.

"The aircraft never arrived at Mthatha Airport."

It is believed the aircraft left Waterkloof at 08:00 on Wednesday morning. The alarm was raised at 12:00 when it failed to arrive in Mthatha.

SAAF spokesperson Xolani Mabanga confirmed that a search and rescue operation has been launched and will resume at first light on Thursday morning.

The search has been narrowed down using triangulation based on cellphone signals of 3 of the passengers on board.

An Oryx helicopter from Bloemfontein was tasked to search for the missing aircraft, but had to abandon the search due to the very bad weather in the area. Farmers in the area have also been contacted to help with the search.

Just last month a Dakota made a hard landing at Mthatha airport.

The Dakota is a WWII vintage aircraft which does not normally have a black box or emergency radio beacons.

  • max.oli.35 - 2012-12-05 23:50

    lets trust that' if' its a crash as result of original technological makeup, with 'its flaws, versus the human condition against the natural elements

      kimard - 2012-12-06 01:03

      where are you calling from daniel? mars?? its not about madiba but about the missing plane - i dont see any insults towards black people here get off the internet you sobbing pisscat

      arie.vdplaats.3 - 2012-12-06 01:15

      @ Daniel.masombuku.5 where in the article did you read that this is a black versus white issue. An aircraft crashes whether there are whites OR for that matter black in the aircraft. I still have to come across a racist oriented aircraft and I have been around for more than 70 years. Spare your racist comment for where they belong. Aircraft are not racists.

      JohnB - 2012-12-06 03:39

      Daniel, did you steal the computer you are sprouting this virtually unreadable crap on. Why didn't you just blame it on Apartheid while you were at it? Get a life, no hold on an education first despot!

      Lyndatjie - 2012-12-06 04:44

      @Daniel - you are being a good little troll.... *sigh*

      edna.errenrich - 2012-12-06 05:50

      Daniel 'black box' is part of an aircraft not a reference to race

      gerald.parker.3956 - 2012-12-06 06:14

      Edna Daniel thought that they were talking about Winnie

      marius.j.rensburg.3 - 2012-12-06 07:55

      Daniel - "I respect that man more than amybody in the world I don't know weater its magic or its because he is black" You as stupid as they come bro!!!!! lol

  • beverly.young3 - 2012-12-05 23:55

    OMG. Those are terrible mountins in bad weather. I am afraid if they havent heard already, it is not going ot be good news. The families of these people must be frantic!

      nic.nomicos.3 - 2012-12-06 07:56

      I'm afraid I have to agree with you, that plane is not up there anymore...

  • jacques.pieterse.31 - 2012-12-06 00:01

    Hopefully this is not radical, as the world knows madiba

  • bobby.rosewood.1 - 2012-12-06 00:06

    'Plane Missing' means end of the journey for all, usually. especially missing over mountains.

  • Slagen Magidi - 2012-12-06 00:19

    its funny, SAAF plane missing? Something is going on we are not that much fools

      mark.schulz.796 - 2012-12-06 00:46

      Was it Botha back from the grave with a false Maputo beacon? No no, it was some ZIPRA rebels that haven't been told that the Bush War is over. Next conspiracy theory, please.

      kearabetswe.matome - 2012-12-06 00:48

      Uhm ! You are(that much fool). But not for the reason you think !

      ben.lantz1 - 2012-12-06 04:40


      ben.lantz1 - 2012-12-06 04:46

      "I won't be open to jelous criticism.The unravelli of a mystery appears imminent". Your favorite quote wow you must have a crystal ball hidden somewhere

  • motho.batho.98 - 2012-12-06 01:33

    This is not what I want to hear!

  • anele.mveku - 2012-12-06 02:09

    Not good, I hope they find them soon nd well.

  • mzu.gwala - 2012-12-06 02:13

    i hope n pray dt dy safe eish ma friend/colleague is in dt Dakota n i mst also go 2 Mthatha wit dt Dakota on d 27th...yeah nw ds scares me!!!

  • nico.eksteen.7 - 2012-12-06 03:16

    Why don't they establish a permanent, medical team close to where Mandela lives now. Seems a terrible waste of money to fly the people in on a weekly basis. Also, a 70 year old aircraft still in full operation. Only in Africa.

      candice.smith.94214508 - 2012-12-06 03:35

      If they can spent money on zuma house they can spent the money on madiba it's worthwhile

  • candice.smith.94214508 - 2012-12-06 03:31

    I pray that they are safe and well. And I know that madiba is also praying

  • Khetha Hlophe - 2012-12-06 05:01

    Monstly the small plane crash with White people n always sympathetic msgs are posted but now that there are blacks involved. Some people refer to fellow SAfricans as terrorists. Its true that they r not into this democracy we r in

      gerald.parker.3956 - 2012-12-06 06:45

      Hey where in the article doe it mention race you rascict pig. it says medical team. Oh dont worry the "black box" that is mentioned is not you or meybe with your attitude it should be

      jmatebane - 2012-12-06 06:54

      Politicians must just excuse them selves from conversations about logic...He probably thinks a black box is a box full of black people... I am black myself and my brada your embarrasing us, Stop it.

      nic.nomicos.3 - 2012-12-06 07:36

      @Khetha are you sober dude??...

  • sakhile.makhathini.7 - 2012-12-06 05:16

    Its sad news indeed, bt in future the former president team must b stationed @ umthatha hospital, upgrade the hospital and have a presidential ward. The same shld apply 2 JZ upgrade a nearby hospital

  • charmaine.paterson1 - 2012-12-06 05:19

    My thoughts are with the families of the people who were on duty when they went missing.

  • lufuno.wakhakhu - 2012-12-06 05:28

    This is very sad, my colleagues, my friends are missing in that plane. I cannot begin to feel what their families are feeling. I wish we could do something, but we only holding on to prayer that maybe they will find them.

  • Peter Zylstra - 2012-12-06 05:28

    I really feel for all the people on board but why a team of medicals must be sent weekly boggles the mind! If the old man is so sick let him then stay closer to the available facilities.

  • chris.phago - 2012-12-06 05:30

    Let's pray that'they r safe even though the possibility is very slim

  • thaluki.malema - 2012-12-06 05:44

    It's sad, that's an historic airoplane.

      nic.nomicos.3 - 2012-12-06 07:26

      I hope I'm wrong in thinking about what your comment implies....

  • maureen.churchill.9 - 2012-12-06 05:57

    Sad news, miracle by all miracles hope all turns out well

  • lenox.ntlantsana - 2012-12-06 06:01

    No no no no, this doesn't sound right at all. Hope all is well to those on board and might have just missed the landing point due to bad weather! *thinking out loud*

  • mdu.s.khumalo - 2012-12-06 06:08

    I still yet to hear about a missing aircraft which has been recovered safely with people survived. Sad indeed.

  • mike.tanski.5 - 2012-12-06 06:09

    I read all the comments re the Dakota here and realise that those commenting know squat about aircraft. These Dakotas have been re-engined with turbines and have been brought back up to modern spec. They dont carry black boxes because the type of utilisation does not require them to.Yes they are old planes, but upgraded to modern standards, purely because there has not yet been a plane made that is like them and can truly replace them.

      lrammekwa - 2012-12-06 06:52

      @ Mike do get your point but really just have to face the real burning issues and give geunine concerns on such issues! We both know that really we expect much of least we offering self or prepared to. This is an open secret that we all know that when DoD budget is discussed you'll hear pertrotism of our politicians towards their country. Our politicians always believe only when RSA has war threat is only then that DoD CAN aquire new toys. Then the question remaining in a realistic thinker is how and when will the DoD be able to get themselves competant on those toys? Now that is former citizen no 1's medical team missing in action a question is does our politicians realize what state of affairs they putting their own country in. The worst case senario is that vintage thing is suppose to air lift our paratroopers in case of war, a similar case then happens during war time. What then? Truth is myself and you were not born when WW2 was fought and we really can't try to justify ussage of uquipment utilized then, this is just rediculas. We cant really expect best out of the worst looked after government organ. Am in the system and raelly one keep asking self are we expected to fight for our country with our bear fists, cuase seemingly our politicians are comfortable with their porsch lifes and careless of the country's defence!

      nico.eksteen.7 - 2012-12-06 07:28

      Does not matter how much upgrading they did. The thing is 70 years old...and not flying anymore, sadly.

  • Annelize Buitendach-Roesch - 2012-12-06 06:18

    Khetha was any race mentioned in the article? No! Robert - your comments are sickening. It is sad news to read. The loved ones and families of 11 people are affected. The agony of them and also of Madiba not knowing whether they are safe? I am praying that they will be found safe!

      tedmaseko - 2012-12-06 06:37

      In my mind am praying for thy safect as well honest. Ths ppl have gv up a lot to make sure Mandelas live is thy first priority.

  • michael.kleber.376 - 2012-12-06 06:20

    This does not sound like its going to have a happy ending , i hope all are found safely , their families must be suffering waiting for good news

      tedmaseko - 2012-12-06 06:28

      I hp so bcs the is nothing painful like waiting that call.

  • wackomedic911 - 2012-12-06 06:25

    Can i just state in reply to Tert.lepa, that we are not the only airforce in the world that use the C-47TP, it is a upgraded version of the dakota with more powerful engines updated avionics and navigation systems, our airforce use these aircraft as transport and maritime partrol aircraft, please, if you do not know what you are talking about, dont say anything. The reason for the continued use is because the c-47 airframe is extremely robust, sturdy and hard working, please keep your uninformed comments to yourself.thank you.

      deonk.alexander - 2012-12-06 07:19

      I would like to know was there a plan B on the medical service/supply of Madiba.

      nico.eksteen.7 - 2012-12-06 07:34

      Looks like the upgrading was not very successful. Still an old structure. Bound to fail sometime.

  • Sechaba30 - 2012-12-06 06:26

    This is so sad, was Lindiwe Sisulu in the plane?

  • shaun.miekle - 2012-12-06 06:26

    The hijackers in this country are very sophisticated

  • jmatebane - 2012-12-06 07:00

    So sorry to hear, why were they flying at 11 000 feet? That is quite low.

  • LeeRato - 2012-12-06 07:02

    We will Pray for all of them on board..

  • julian.booyens - 2012-12-06 07:17

    The 7:00 news on our local Durban radio station was that the wreckage has been found but no news on the passengers.

  • frank.hartry - 2012-12-06 07:18

    The Dakota planes from WW2 are safe and reliable. I did over 200 military static line parachute descents from DAKS over a 26 years military career with no problems. Question;- How come so many resources costing millions of pounds sterling are being used on the welfare of your presidents, ex presidents etc when millions of your South African people are starving. Mandela maybe good fellows but do they not have money of their own? Quite pathetic. Mandela himself is worth millions and receives a tax free monthly salary equal to a sitting president. And, as for this little rotund man Zuma. Well. Enough said.

      shooshyu.tu - 2012-12-06 17:27

      Good comment Frank. Yep we did a lot of jumps from those Daks back in the day, old but very reliable aircraft. Starlight CSqn.

  • OSSY24 - 2012-12-06 07:27

    if alive they will need a medical team

  • george.king.3363 - 2012-12-06 08:00

    @tert.lepa: so 64 dose actually LIKE this ignorant comment? (Or are they just being sarcastic?)

  • lance.sikonela - 2012-12-06 08:14

    i am happy that people who as why do they still use these type of aircrafts because they are old. people are accusing the government about arms deal as we had the need to purchase those things. do we have to wait for such accidents to purchase these armourment vehicles or must we do it when there is a need. i support those who want the government to purchase new fleet but dont come and say it was not necessary

  • Daniel Jayson Brink - 2012-12-06 08:23

    Hopefully the SAAF has learned its lesson with regards to awarding pilots who fail blatantly with a pilots license. The SAAF is responsible for this incident. One cannot be awarded a pilots license simply for who you are. Nepotism in this country must come to an end!

      Daniel Jayson Brink - 2012-12-06 08:59

      lizl.potgieter - 2012-12-06 13:05

      I personally knew one of the pilots as he was doing his flying course when I did mine in the SAAF and I can assure you he was not pushedthru! He was a great pilot, so please do not just assume with no facts! I agree that the procedures are not always the best but this def was not the case!

      jmatebane - 2012-12-08 11:50

      Are you a SAAF pilot?

  • njabulo.mnguni.180 - 2012-12-06 08:35

    I pray for their safe recovery. The families must be going through great trauma.

  • brian.lewis.7169709 - 2012-12-06 08:35

    This is an extremely sad event. Just over 61 years ago a siliar accident occurred when the SAA Dakota Paardeberg flew into Ingele Mountain near Kokstad (15 October 1951), with the loss of 16 lives. I pray that familes of those lost receive comfort as losing a family member in these circumstances is terrible.

  • nick.lithgow1 - 2012-12-06 08:50

    Terrible year for SA aviation!

  • bless.boswell - 2012-12-06 09:00

    Well said Lance. This was a weekly flight intended to ensure Madiba's health - in an aircraft OVER 60 YEARS OLD? and Zuma is ordering not one but 2 big jets worth millions? Something is clearly very wrong with the priorities in this country. It us very difficult to have positive feelings for someone who's taking the food out if our mouths and denying children their education in order to enrich themselves.

      jmatebane - 2012-12-08 11:25

      ... It's incidents like these they are trying to prevent by odering those big jets and No, those planes are not for Zuma they are for the South African Air Force which they are going to be used to fly who ever will be president and deputy president.

  • janita.viljoen - 2012-12-06 09:16

    Daniel Jayson Brink? if you don't know what you are talking about shut the hell up, the pilot was good in what he did and he had a family 2!! I suggest that you apologize for that stupid comment about the pilots, it was due to BAD weather you ass!!

      janita.viljoen - 2012-12-06 11:06

      You can unlike my comment as much as you want to but the fact is the smirky an crap comment everybody is making is unfair towards the diseased and their families, that women wasn't the only pilot so get your facts straight before you blame the pilot

      Daniel Jayson Brink - 2012-12-06 11:08

      As far as I am aware the pilot is a she, I am not the only person privy to this information, please go read down at the rest of the comments. The wealth of talented young people who apply for positions in the SAAF and are refused is shocking. Why should I apologize for speaking the truth?!

      Daniel Jayson Brink - 2012-12-06 11:22

      I think you are misreading my comments. You make it out as if I am glad this happened. Believe you me, I do not revel in the fact that this crash happened just that someone needs to state the facts behind this. I do believe the co pilot did what he could, but under the circumstances, I do not feel that it is fair that the facts behind all this stays in the dark. I wish only the deepest condolences for the losses to the unfortunate families, but justice must prevail to prevent such an unfortunate incident from happening again.

  • edith.maloy - 2012-12-06 10:12

    Today we lost a Great Husband, Father, brother, son and neighbor on Ysterplaat Air Force Base, Cape Town. To those who have nothing good to say about this, keep it to yourself. It's been a very SAD day here on the base. To Eric, u will be missed and to you Strong wife and kids, we as a Jack Frost Family will always be there for you. :(

      fanie.gerber1972 - 2012-12-06 14:06

      Sterkte julle

      douglas.hollis.7 - 2012-12-06 20:15

      To Kurt, I will always remember you. You were a fantastic guy, so humble and yet so talented. I was just privileged to have known you. Deepest, deepest condolences to his loved ones, and all the other families and friends concerned. This is a tragedy of note.

  • jmatebane - 2012-12-08 11:42

    The SAAF needs new aircraft, starting with the presidential jet, that 738 is getting old. I think the B772LR was justified for the kinds of Political missions our president goes on. For the standard missions like this one of this Dakota, I would recomend they get Gulfstream 450s for their sophisticated technology and performance with a base cruising altitude of 41 000feet, bad weather over the Drakensburg would have just been a rumor anf cruising mach .81 umthatha would just been right next door and all those that were on board would have gone home to their happy families. Theres nothing worse than loosing a loved one, it's painful. My thoughts and prayers are with the families....I hope the SAAF learns from this and they must consider ordering new planes.

  • Thabo Fondo Mandela Matshane - 2013-03-07 13:26

    It was sad 2 loose a friend cpl A,Matlaila cos we were suposed 2 b together may their souls rest in peace and 2 all members hu were on dat plane also,I pray 4 their families

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