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KwaZulu-Natal - “My life flashed before my eyes.” That’s how an aviation company employee felt when the small plane he was in plunged into a sugar cane field in Cato Ridge on Thursday.
Japhet Ngubane and pilot Dio Kapena are lucky to be alive after the Piper Cherokee PA-28 bounced several times while trying to land on a 650m air strip surrounded by a sugar cane field.
The low-wing four-seater, 180-horsepowered aircraft belongs to Numibyte, an aviation company in the area.
The men were flying from Durban’s Virginia Airport, returning early yesterday from an annual inspection of the plane, when they crashed.
“Before the aircraft came to a standstill, it spun 180º. It was God’s will that we came out alive. Due to the force of the impact when it hit the sugar cane, I expected the aircraft to go up in flames. I saw my life flashing before my eyes. We would’ve been burned because the aircraft only has one door on the right hand side,” Ngubane said
He said the nose wing was bent, prop strike was damaged and the cowling and spinner were smashed.
Further damage is expected to be assessed by inspectors from the South African Civil Aviation Authority today.
Kapena told Ngubane the approach was fine but when the aircraft was about to land, a wind shear pushed the plane to the left and caused it to bounce.
Paramedics and police were at the scene and found the men on the runway unscathed.
Chris Botha, Netcare 911 spokesman, said although the pilot was visibly shocked, they were both uninjured.
“Reports from the pilot indicated that they came in for a landing at a private air strip when the wing clipped the sugar cane. The plane spun out of control and came to rest in the cane field some distance from the initial impact,” he said.
The incident was reported to the Camperdown police station and the aircraft was under police guard. A case was not opened.
Civil Aviation spokeswoman, Phindi Gwebu, said they were investigating the incident. - Daily News