Yusuf Moolla and Mogomotsi Magome

AN SA Air Force military plane carrying an unconfirmed number of personnel went missing on its way to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape from Pretoria yesterday.

The SAAF has confirmed that the Dakota aircraft might have had problems en route but said there were no details about what happened.

SAAF spokesman Brigadier-General Xolani Mabanga said the plane had last been located around Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal.

According to a statement made on the SAAF (unofficial) forum, the Dakota, also known as a C-47TP aircraft, of 35 Squadron, was flying from AFB Waterkloof near Pretoria when it encountered severe weather conditions yesterday morning.

“Unconfirmed reports state that the aircraft last communicated with air traffic control when [it was flying] above Giant’s Castle in the Drakensberg mountains, stating that they were at 11 000 feet and flying in instrument meteorological conditions due to the bad visibility.

“The aircraft never arrived at Mthatha Airport.”

The forum’s administrator, Dean Wingrin, said an Oryx helicopter was tasked to search for the aircraft, but had to abandon the search due to the bad weather in the area.

It is believed that there were over 10 people on board the flight.

Last month, the forum stated that another C-47TP Dakota of 35 Squadron bounced while landing and left the runway. No one was injured.