A freeboarding outing among colleagues turned into a freak accident in Kugersdorp on Sunday afternoon after an aeroplane collided with a car. The collision between the plane and a Ford Ranger happened near the Krugersdorp Airport, and fortunately did not claim any lives.
A two-seater Piper Cherokee crashed soon after take-off, hitting the 4×4 head-on and bursting into flames. The pilot, John Thompson, and his passenger, George Carney, both in their 50s, suffered minor injuries.
“We saw the plane take off, and while it was in the air it looked like it was having problems, and then the next thing it came straight down towards us,” 31-year-old Monica Braganca, who was in the car with Anna Vaulina, told the Mail & Guardian Online on Monday. Braganca and Vaulina were both unharmed.
The rest of the group that was part of the freeboarding expedition with Braganca and Vaulina, but who were not in the car that was hit by the plane, dragged the pilot and his passenger from the burning wreckage moments before it was engulfed by flames.
“We were driving in front of Monica and heard a massive bang and we all turned around only to find that Monica and Anna were out of the bakkie, so we rushed down to help the pilot and the passenger in the plane,” said Craig Rodney, who was one of the of the group of 12 who had gone on the outing.
Rodney and the others managed to help the passenger, who was unconscious at the time, out of the plane and get paramedic attention. “The paramedics were surprisingly quick to arrive,” Rodney said.
The Times on Monday reported that Braganca, who was treated for shock, said: “I just closed my eyes, kept my foot on the brakes and braced myself. We pretty much saw it coming. I think we were very lucky we were in the car we were — a Ford Ranger bakkie with a bull bar. I am going to go out and buy myself a 4×4 now.”
According to the Times, Pieter Kriel, the owner of the plane, described Thompson as an “experienced pilot” with 10 years’ experience: “He is training for his commercial pilot’s licence.”
The Civil Aviation Authority is reported to be investigating the accident.
Braganca told the M&G Online on Monday that she was doing fine. “Everything that happened, happened at the right time and in such a way that no one was injured. We obviously suffered minor scratches as we were getting out of the car, but it could have got worse. I am glad it didn’t and that everyone survived,” she said.