The Civil Aviation Authority has released three reports detailing unusual incidents in SA's skies.
Visitors to a game lodge in Limpopo had a harrowing experience when their pilot got lost and crashed when he landed on the wrong airstrip — and then the helicopter sent to rescue them got lost, too.
This series of unfortunate events played out on October 20, 2019, and is one of three unusual incidents the SA Civil Aviation Authority reported on in a document published on Thursday. The report was compiled by the authority's accident and incidents investigations division.
Apart from the lost pilot, the division also reported on the death of a security guard at a local aerodrome, and how an aircraft was forced to return to OR Tambo because of complications due to a fault reported 14 days earlier.
Here are the details of these cases:
Pilot gets lost
On October 20, 2019 a light aircraft took off at 7.15am from the Rand Aerodrome in Gauteng. On board were the pilot and five passengers. They were destined for Ant’s Nest private airfield in Limpopo.
According to the incident report, the pilot reported that they had flown over the private landing strip twice to inspect the airfield and saw no concerns about the grassy runway.
At 8am the aircraft approached the strip but the landing was bumpy because of an uneven surface. An unseen ditch caused the right-hand side of the main landing gear to collapse, which in turn saw the right-hand side engine propeller and the wing make contact with the ground.
The aircraft veered off to the right and came to rest on the side of the airstrip. Luckily, none of the passengers was injured.
But, it would turn out, the pilot had flown to the wrong airfield. The one he landed on, some 15km away from his intended destination, had not been used in two years.
A helicopter was sent to fetch the clients to take them to the correct airfield, where Ant’s Nest Lodge staff would receive them. Unfortunately, the helicopter pilot then got lost for two hours in the reserve. Ultimately, it had to land at a police station where the guests could be collected.
According to the report, the incident occurred because the light aircraft crew did not properly plan their flight to the destination airfield.