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Johannesburg - More than three weeks after their aircraft disappeared over rural Mozambique, the wreckage of Midrand pilot Bryan Simms and his son Robert have been found. Neither survived the crash.
The father and son team were ferrying a Baron 58 - a twin-engine light aircraft - from Uganda to South Africa when they disappeared on October 28.
That morning, the plane had reported engine trouble while flying over Mozambique. It would divert to Beira. The pilots cut radio contact to focus on the cockpit.
They had intended to land at Lanseria Airport that night but they didn’t arrive.
A joint South Africa-Mozambique search-and-rescue operation ensued, but it stalled. The plane was suspected to have gone down in a remote and wooded area. The operation was called off a week later.
A group of volunteers rallied to continue the hunt privately, and raised over R500 000 in funds and equipment.
Last week, the family offered a reward for any information that could lead to their return.
On Tuesday, they released a statement: “Yesterday afternoon [Monday] the Simms family received the news that the plane wreck was found in Mozambique by a local villager. Neither Bryan nor Robert survived the impact. We are awaiting positive legal identification.”
Bryan ran his own aviation business. According to a website set up to co-ordinate the search, he was “a skilled and passionate pilot, who is extremely safety conscious and has more than 8 000 hours logged”. Robert, 22, was the youngest of Bryan’s three children.
He shared his father’s love for flying and studied as an avionics technician after school. He finished his commercial pilot exams this year and was working on building up his flying hours.
The family asked on Tuesday that their privacy be respected.
Widow and mother Lillian Simms posted on Facebook that the pair had died “doing what they loved best”.
“You are both as free as a bird,” she wrote.
“You are together. You have left a massive void in our lives but you live in our hearts and minds forever.”