Durban - The young female student pilot who was killed when a light aircraft she was flying crashed to the ground and burst into flames earlier this week, has been identified as Anika de Beer. She died on the eve of her 17th birthday.
The Piper Cherokee 28A-180 crashed at the main campus of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Academic Hospital on Tuesday afternoon.
South African Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson, Kabelo Ledwaba, said the pilot had been taking part in a training flight. He said the aircraft had taken off from Wonderboom Airport and was intending to land at the same airport.
"The evidence collection phase has begun and this would define the size and scope of the investigation as well as the anticipated timeframe for the completion of a final report," he said.
Ledwaba said it would take 30 days for a preliminary report to be concluded.
"However, should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the investigating team will then immediately notify relevant parties so that appropriate action can be taken," he said.
According to reports, Anika's parents, Rika and Andries, had presented their daughter with the traditional bottle of champagne after her first solo flight but she was too young to drink.
Anika with her parents Rika and Andries de Beer just minutes after she completed her first solo flight.
Picture: Professional Flight Centre / Facebook
Anika was a Grade 11 pupil at Hoerskool Montana. The school paid tribute to the 16-year-old on their Facebook page.
"A grade 11-Montie, Anika de Beer, passed away tragically in an aircraft crash yesterday. Anika had completed her solo flight a few days before - which was one of her dreams. Our deepest condolence to Anika's parents, family, friends and everyone who loved her. We are thinking of you in our prayers. May you experience the Lord's proximity and comfort in this time," the post read.
The Professional Flight Centre where she trained, also paid tribute to her.
"Anika, you will always be part of the PFC family and we will never forget your smile that always lightened the room, your warm heart and fantastic personality. May you spread your wings and fly high with the angles in heaven!
"Our deepest condolences to her family and friends in this time of sadness and sorrow. We pray that God will give you all the strength that you need in this difficult time," the post read.