Bunking school ended up being a very expensive mistake for a group of Plettenberg Bay youngsters, who crashed a small aeroplane into a hangar door at the airport.
The aircraft was sent to George yesterday for the damages – estimated at more than R1-million – to be assessed.
The hangar itself will cost about R50 000 to repair.
Police spokesman Captain Malcolm Pojie said the four children from KwaNokuthula, aged between seven and 11, had bunked school recently and were playing around the hangars at the Plett airport when they became trapped inside.
A pilot, on returning from a flight, had locked the door, not realising anyone was inside.
“The children were hiding inside a boat in the hangar and couldn’t get out,” Pojie said.
“They fiddled around and managed to get into one of the aircraft in the hangar and discovered the keys under a mat on the floor.
“They put the keys in the ignition and started the aircraft, which instantly accelerated and sped off, hitting the door of the hangar.”
Hangar owner Vernon Bartlett said the four-seater plane was easy to start.
“If you manage to flip a few switches and turn the ignition, the plane is ready to take off,” he said yesterday.
Bartlett said the damage to the hangar alone was R50 000 and the damage to the plane was estimated to be more than R1-million.
Pojie said police were investigating a case of burglary and malicious damage to property.
“The four children jumped from the aircraft after the incident and ran away,” he said.
“Fortunately, two of them were apprehended by workers on site.
“Consultation has been done with the children and their parents, who explained what had transpired on the day.”
Pojie said the matter would be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority for instructions on whether or not to prosecute.
“The children are all in the care of their parents and guardians,” he said.