Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rand Robinson KR-2, ZU-VDP: Accident occurred January 28, 2014 at Pretoria Wonderboom (PRY/FAWB) in South Africa

Piet Smit, 51, affectionately known as Piet Vlieg , a test pilot and flying instructor, crashed shortly after taking off on runway 11 at between 6.40 and 7.40 on Tuesday morning. 

Pretoria - Tragedy struck Wonderboom Airport for the second time in five days on Tuesday when a test pilot plummeted to his death shortly after taking off in a light KR aircraft. 

Piet Smit, 51, affectionately known as “Piet Vlieg”, a test pilot and flying instructor, crashed shortly after taking off on runway 11 at between 6.40 and 7.40 on Tuesday morning. 

Despite an emergency call, signalling airport control that he was in trouble, Smit could not be helped before the aircraft plunged into a cluster of trees on the premises. He was alone in the aircraft. 

“I heard the emergency call over the radio because I was also in the air at the time. I did not realise until later that it was Piet’s voice I heard,” said Walter Gouveia, a friend. He heard Smit say, “I declare an emergency”, seconds before his death. 

Smit owned Aviators Paradise Flight Centre in Brits, where he trained pilots and built sling aircraft. 

“Flying was his life. For the past 15 years it was his career and every morning he woke up and went out flying,” Gouveia said. 

Gouveia became friends with Smit through their mutual love of flying and Smit was Gouveia’s flying instructor. 

“He was very experienced and he did not take any chances with safety. That’s why this (accident) does not make sense,” he said. 

Smit leaves behind his wife, Juanita, and two teenage children, Janro, 15, and Marinique, 13. He and his family lived behind the hangars at his flying school. 

The cause of the accident has yet to be determined, but Gouveia believes there was a fault with the aircraft. It is believed Smit died on impact. 

Airport management was unwilling to provide information regarding the accident and referred the matter to the Department of Transport’s aviation section. 

Zakhele Thwala of the department said the investigations could take up to a year to complete 

Another light aircraft crashed on Friday afternoon, killing 23-year-old flight engineer Jaco Smit from Bultfontein. He was killed when he took a Cessna 188 Agwagon out for a test flight. 

Story and comments/reaction:  http://www.iol.co.za

Ace pilot's last moments 

 Discovering what happened during the final seconds leading to the crash of a home-made aircraft at a Pretoria airport yesterday morning will be crucial to the accident investigation.

Seasoned pilot and flight instructor Piet Smit was killed when the Rand Robinson KR-2 aircraft he was test flying plunged into the ground moments after taking off from Wonderboom Airport.

Smit is the co-owner of Brits Flight Training Centre, in North West.

The accident is the second at the airport this month, according to Transport Department spokesman Zakhele Thwala.

"The first was a scare about a possible crash, which fortunately did not occur," he said.

Thwala said central to the investigation would be the search for indications of mechanical failures or contamination of the aircraft's fuel.

"Another key aspect of the investigation will be the final communication between the pilot and the control tower. The last communication was a radio message from the pilot declaring an emergency and requesting permission to land immediately.

"Moments after he made the request and, while trying to land, the plane crashed."

Michael Spike, a close friend of Smit, the father of two, described him as an excellent pilot who always put safety first.

"He never compromised on safety ... that was his golden rule. He was a brilliant aviator with over 15 years of experience."

Asked about what could have caused the crash, Spike said a component might have been incorrectly assembled.

"But we will not know until the investigation is complete. We are all battling. This is a very sad day," he said.

Roger Smith, the pilot's friend and also an aviation enthusiast, described Smit as "a stellar person" who loved flying "like he loved life".

"He was brilliant at it. He was a natural and loved teaching others to fly. It was a passion of his. He died doing what he loved."

Source:  http://www.timeslive.co.za

TEST FLIGHT: Piet Smit was killed in the plane crash in Pretoria

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