All alive after forced landing

A PIPER Saratoga light aircraft had to make an emergency landing on the N1 outside Bloemfontein yesterday morning after experiencing "technical difficulties".

Pilot Paul Smit and his family were on their way to the Free State Stadium to watch the match between England and Germany.

Smit, from Benoni, has been flying for more than 15 years.

Travelling with him was his daughter Tanika, 25, son Colte, 16 and Roark McColgan 27.

"We left Petic airport without any problems. But, about seven minutes from Bloemfontein Airport we discovered that the aircraft was experiencing problems.

"We immediately sent a Mayday message to the airport and they were wonderful. Emergency services arrived on the scene within five minutes of our landing. They were fantastic. They helped us so much. They even offered us a lift to the stadium so that we would not miss the game," Tanika said.

The aircraft has been taken to the Bloemfontein Airport and is being held under guard by the Civil Aviation Authorities.

This is so that further investigation can be carried to find the reason for the plane's "technical difficulties".

ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak said: "When paramedics arrived at the scene, they found the aircraft parked slightly off the highway, facing oncoming traffic.

"Paramedics quickly checked if anyone had sustained any injuries. Fortunately no one was injured. Vermaak said the passengers were only treated for shock.