It was sometime in June this year when a group of South African teens grabbed headlines for what is a very remarkable achievement. News had it that a group of twenty South African teens had built a light aircraft with their very own hands and four of those teens were now flying solo from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt, having already flown to Namibia successfully.
The four young pilots had obtained their licenses after acing flying lessons and they were to take turns flying the aircraft on a trip that would involve numerous stopovers at various African countries. And from all indications, the kids were making light work of the whole thing despite concerns from many people who feared that things might go awry.
To put minds at ease, a second light aircraft was going to accompany the kids on the journey and this was to be flown by two seasoned pilots who were to ensure that there would be no drama. But the drama did come and it is a rather tragic one.
On Saturday, a light plane crashed in western Tanzania killing two people. And it has just been confirmed that the lifeless bodies are, in fact, the two South African pilots who had accompanied the history-making South African teens on a second plane during last month’s successful attempt to fly a home-built aircraft from Cape Town to Cairo.
According to the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), the crashed Sling plane, which entered Tanzanian airspace from Uganda en route to Malawi, made a distress signal about engine failure before disappearing from radar,
“The pilot and passenger, both South African citizens, were killed in the plane crash that occurred shortly after takeoff from Tabora airport at around 7:30 am,” Sikonge district commissioner Peres Magiri, told ITV.
The plane was destroyed by fire after the crash and only the engine and some other parts were recovered. The plane was identified as one belonging to U-Dream Global, the South African organisation under which the teens are championing their course.
On U-Dream Global’s Facebook account, it says the Tanzanian accident involved the flight support aircraft for the Cape to Cairo Challenge and that project directors, Des Werner and Werner Froneman, lost their lives. No one else was involved in the accident, the group said.
South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation said it has activated its consular services to support affected families.
U-Dream Global, made international headlines in June when a group of students successfully built a four-seater Sling aircraft and then flew it from Cape Town to Cairo in July. The institution is a not-for-profit organisation founded by teen pilot and motivational speaker, Megan Werner, in 2018.
It is not clear whether the late support pilots were flying alongside the teen pilots during the tragic incident but several indications have it that no harm has come to the teen pilots who must now be shaken by the demise of two of their mentors who have lost their lives while doing the very job they (the teens) are crazy about. What a tragedy!
Featured Image Courtesy: africanews.com