One person killed, 20 injured in crash of vintage plane in South Africa

The plane, built in 1954, was soon to be flown from Pretoria to an air museum in the Netherlands

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2018, 2:22am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 July, 2018, 2:50am

One person was killed and about 20 were injured when a vintage plane crashed on Tuesday after it took off on a test flight from a small airport in the South African capital of Pretoria, emergency services said.

The Convair-340 plane built in 1954 was scheduled to soon be flown to the Aviodrome air museum in the Netherlands from the Wonderboom airport in Pretoria.

The plane came down on rough ground about 5 kilometres (3 miles) east of the airport, hitting a small factory building, injuring two people inside.

Images from the site showed the plane broken into several pieces. Paramedics helped survivors out of the aircraft and treated patients at the scene as firefighters battled the smoking wreckage.

“The plane had 19 passengers on board, which includes the pilot and the engineer,” said Johan Pieterse, the local government emergency services spokesman.

“There was one fatality in the cockpit, we are not sure if it’s the pilot or the engineer. We have got about 20 patients with injuries ranging from serious to critical, including two people who were on the ground.”

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The Aviodrome aerospace theme park near the central Dutch city of Lelystad said on its Facebook page that it was “hugely shocked” by the crash.

The plane, which had been expected to arrive at the Aviodrome on July 23, “crashed in South Africa during take-off on a test flight,” it said.

It said the Convair-340 was a US-built passenger plane that could carry 44 people.

“We are not sure what happened at this stage,” said Rosella Passier, the Aviodrome’s marketing manager. “All we know is shortly after take-off the plane experienced trouble and crashed.”

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The plane had been due to fly later this week to the Netherlands via East Africa, through Egypt, Croatia and Austria.

According to the Aviodrome’s website, it cost €350,000 (US$410,000) to make the plane “flight ready” and to buy parts for the planned trip to Europe.

The Aviodrome is one of the Netherlands’ largest theme parks, where visitors can view various aircraft close up, including a KLM Boeing 747 and Soviet-era MiG-21 fighter jet.