/ 11 September 2005

First black aerobatics pilot killed in plane crash

South Africa’s first black aerobatics pilot Gabriel Siyabonga Ndabandaba was on Saturday identified as one of the two people killed when a jet plane crashed in Vereeniging, in the Vaal.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said two people were killed on Saturday morning while performing stunts at an airshow.

CAA spokesperson Gilbert Twala said four jets from the Sasol team had been performing stunts in front of a crowd when one of them banked towards the left and went down.

”As the jets flew towards the crowd one of them must have lost height. We will investigate the height and speed of the jet at the time of the crash,” Twala said.

SABC news reported that 27-year-old Ndabandaba, who is the son of the KwaZulu-Natal agriculture MEC Gabriel Ndabandaba, was one of the two accident victims.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele on Saturday evening extended his condolences to the Ndabandaba family saying the country has lost ”an achiever and a good role model” for the youth.

His spokesman Thabang Chilwane said Ndabandaba was one of the few airforce pilots who had the honour of doing the fly-over during President Thabo Mbeki’s inauguration last year.

At the time of his death, he had been working as a pilot for the SA Airways where, the company said, he flew SAA’s newest Airbus A340 aircraft on the airline’s international routes.

He was one of the first black pilots trained by the SA Air Force (SAAF) in 2000.

Ndabandaba joined SAA in July 2004 after years of working for the SAAF where he was a Lieutenant.

Fondly known among as ”Numzan” his colleagues, SAA spokesperson Onkgopotse JJ Tabane said he would be remembered for his ”passion for flying and aerobatics”. – Sapa