Veteran pilot killed in Baakens air crash
A veteran Port Elizabeth pilot known for building his own light aircraft – and who cheated death in a plane accident three years ago – was killed in a fiery crash that sent plumes of smoke billowing over Walmer yesterday afternoon.
For hours, sirens blared and helicopters could be heard hovering above the Baakens Valley where Rego Burger, 56, went down in the Fish Eagle aircraft, with witnesses reporting hearing a loud bang.
The plane is believed to have burst into flames on impact in the valley, about 50m from The Knysna luxury apartment complex.
Curious onlookers converged on the area shortly afterwards while police and traffic officials cordoned off all surrounding roads.
Preliminary information from officials was that the plane was heading back towards the Port Elizabeth Airport – from where it had taken off – when it crashed.
Fire and Emergency Services acting director Nilton Whiteboy said initial reports – which later turned out to be incorrect – indicated that three people were in the plane, with some witnesses claiming to have seen occupants crawling from the wreckage.
Those reports led to police and rescue workers spending hours after the crash searching for survivors until Air Traffic and Navigation Services confirmed that only one person was aboard the flight.
Rescue workers set up a forward command post in First Avenue, Walmer, to coordinate rescue and recovery efforts...