Thursday, December 6, 2012

■ SOUTH AFRICA: Wreckage of missing SAAF C47 found in the Drakensburg; 11 dead.

South African Air ForceThe wreckage of a South African National Defence Force C47TP Dakota (the military version of a DC3) belonging to 35Squadron, that went missing in heavy weather on Wednesday near Nelson Mandela’s home town of Qunu, en route from Pretoria's Waterkloof Air Force Base to Mthatha, Eastern Cape, has been found in the Drakensburg Mountain range near Ladysmith, with no survivors aboard.

SAAF C47 crash Drakensburg Ladysmith
An SAAF C47TP (defenseweb)
The C47 took off from Waterkloof AFB in Pretoria at 'about' 08h00L and was scheduled to land in Mthatha (formerly Umtata, Transkei) at 10h00L, but never did.
Unconfirmed reports said the aircraft last communicated with Air Traffic Control when above Giants Castle in the Drakensberg, saying they were at 11,000 feet and flying in Instrument Meteorological Conditions due to the bad visibility," read a statement by the SANDF.

A Search and Rescue team consisting of a South African Air Force Oryx helicopter was dispatched, but called off due to the weather.

The medical team of Nelson Mandela, who now lives in Qunu, was originally reported to have been aboard the ill-fated aircraft as the route is used by them on a weekly basis, but this was later found to be untrue and subsequently retracted.

According to the SAAF, on 7 November, another C-47TP Dakota of 35 Squadron was involved in a landing accident at Mthatha Airport, when it bounced on landing and left the runway. Damage included a torn-off main undercarriage, bent propeller and damaged engine and wing. None of the 16 passengers on board were injured then.