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‘Mayday’ before valley crash

The pilot whose plane crashed in the Baakens Valley last month managed to send out a distress call before plunging into trees and the cliff face.
Rego Burger, 56, was killed when his Fish Eagle aircraft crashed in the valley at about 2.30pm on June 11.
The plane burst into flames on impact, about 20m from The Knysna luxury apartment complex in Walmer.
Most of the wreckage disintegrated in the fire but some components, including a part of the wing, were salvaged.On Monday, a preliminary CAA aircraft occurrence report for June said that investigators had determined the aircraft could have stayed airborne for two hours from a fuel perspective.
“According to air traffic control (ATC), the aircraft had two hours’ fuel endurance.
“After passing 1,700 feet, the pilot declared Mayday due to engine failure and indicated that he was turning back, but ATC never heard from the pilot again,” the report states.
The accident happened shortly after take-off from the Port Elizabeth International Airport.
It is believed Burger was heading back to the airport when the plane crashed.
The report gives only a brief description of the preliminary findings, with a more detailed report to be compiled as the investigation continues.
It shows that in the same month there were 11 aircraft incidents countrywide, two of which led to the deaths of three people, including Burger.
On June 1 a helicopter crashed on a farm near Mabula in Limpopo, killing two people.
Burger was a veteran pilot who was known for building his own light aircraft.
In July 2015, he had walked away unscathed after crashlanding on a dairy farm at the foot of the Lady Slipper mountain when the engine of his light aircraft caught alight.

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