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Aussie pilot fights for his life after plane crash

 

AN Australian pilot is fighting for his life after he was injured along with an Aussie co-pilot and passenger in a horror plane crash in South Africa that left two people dead.

Several passengers and crew members were injured, as well as two people on the ground when the vintage aircraft due to become a theme park exhibit went down outside the country's capital, Pretoria.

Pilots Ross Kelly and Douglas Haywood, from Sydney, were taken to Johannesburg Hospital with serious injuries, along with another Australian passenger.

South African Chris Barnard was killed at the scene and the second victim died later in hospital.

"We can confirm that a second person has unfortunately died. This was one of the people injured on the ground," South African Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Kabelo Ledwaba told AFP.

The group was on a scenic flight in a Convair C-131D that was being donated by South African tour company Rovos Rail Tours to the Aviodrome aviation museum in the Netherlands.

The vintage Convair C-131D aircraft crashed into a field in South African capital Pretoria.
The vintage Convair C-131D aircraft crashed into a field in South African capital Pretoria.

Brenda Vos from Rovos Rail told news.com.au the families of the pilots were on their way to South Africa on Wednesday evening.

"It was a scenic flight for the Dutch representatives from Aviodrome," she said. "The plane was due to leave for Holland this afternoon or tomorrow."

A spokeswoman for Aviodrome told news.com.au several of its representatives had been discharged from hospital with only minor injuries. The company's general manager is on her way to South Africa to provide support.

Mr Kelly and Mr Haywood had previously flown another vintage plane belonging to Rovos Rail from South Africa to Darwin.

The pilots are both members of Australia's Historical Aircraft Restoration Society.

Mr Kelly has been a Qantas pilot for more than 30 years and recently retired as captain on the Airbus A380.

Qantas pilot Douglas Haywood was injured in the plane crash. Picture: Facebook
Qantas pilot Douglas Haywood was injured in the plane crash. Picture: Facebook

Mr Haywood is a former RAAF pilot, and has worked for Qantas since 1984, where he trains new pilots on the Airbus A380.

Co-pilot Ross Kelly, who recently retired as captain on the Airbus A380 with Qantas and is pictured with wife Lyndal, was also hurt in the crash. Picture: Facebook
Co-pilot Ross Kelly, who recently retired as captain on the Airbus A380 with Qantas and is pictured with wife Lyndal, was also hurt in the crash. Picture: Facebook

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Australia said in a statement on Facebook: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Australian pilot, co-pilot and passenger who were on-board a Convair C-131D which has crashed today in South Africa. The passenger and co-pilot are said to be in a stable condition, with the pilot critically injured.

"The Convair was being prepared for a delivery flight to the Dutch city of Leystad, where it was to go on display at the Aviodrome museum."

The plane ploughed through a factory near an airport in the Wonderboom area and crashed in a field around five kilometres east of a small airport, according to Tshwane Emergency Services spokesman Johan Pieterse. "It was obviously chaotic," he said.

Video of the plane's takeoff showed smoke streaming behind it and dramatic images from the scene showed the aircraft broken in half.

The SACAA said it would produce a report on the cause of the crash within 30 days.

South African Chris Barnard was killed in the crash, which occurred during a scenic flight. Picture: AP Photo/Phil Magakoe
South African Chris Barnard was killed in the crash, which occurred during a scenic flight. Picture: AP Photo/Phil Magakoe