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16 August 2011

Search and Rescue mission underway in search for two missing light aircraft believed to be en route between Tzaneen and Rand Airport

Crash site co-ordinates:  24°05'06.65"S 30°11'10.28"E  /  24°05'06"S 30°11'06.52"E


Wreckages of the two missing aircraft from Tzaneen Air show found

The SACAA would like to confirm that two aircraft carrying 13 passengers including crew were reported missing on Sunday around 1:30pm. The aircraft reportedly took off from Tzaneen airport at 10:30am, having participated in the Tzaneen air show and were bound for Rand airport in Johannesburg. Following the notification that the aircraft were missing, the SA Search and Rescue commenced with the search on Sunday and continued periodically as the weather presented challenges during the search period. Early this morning notification was received at 8:05am that the wreckages have been located in a mountainous area called Mamatswiri at around 7:15am.

“It is unfortunate that we report that no survivors were found by the search team. The two Albatross aircraft were carrying 6 and 7 passengers respectively, among them children” said Mr Thwala, the Director of Civil Aviation at the regulator. The South African Civil Aviation Authority’s independent investigation team was on
stand by from the time the aircraft were reported missing and have been part of the Disaster Management Centre that was set up at Tzaneen airport and later moved to the Tzaneen Fire Station. Authorities also set up a Crisis Centre at Rand airport in aid of the families of the passengers who were in both aircraft. Support teams are continuing to provide the required assistance to the families at Rand airport and in Tzaneen.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority extends heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims of these two crashes as well as the aviation fraternity on this tragedy. It would seem that the two aircraft crashed against a mountain and both aircraft sustained post impact fire. As is the norm, the investigation into the cause of these accidents has commenced.

“We would like to thank the teams which comprised of the SAPS Air wing, the SA Air Force, the Mountain Rescue Club and all other volunteers that were involved in the search and rescue operations, concluded Mr Thwala.

09h30 16 August 2011 - Condolences to the family and friends of the deceased and a big thank you to all the roll players that assisted in the search and rescue of the two aircraft. Indeed a black day in aviation with the loss of 13 people and two great and beautiful flying machines.

09h00 16 August 2011  Wreckage of 2 Albatross planes which went missing after flying out of Tzaneen have been found. There were no survivors.

07h00 16 August 2011  - The weather is once again not conducive to launch an air search at this time. Weather forecast for today does not look good.

Image: U.S. National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) (Click on image for larger view.)

06h00 16 August 2011 -  Ops will start at 06h30 SAST this morning. The weather yesterday was bad with rain and a very low cloud base with fog in places. However the search continued on foot. A helicopter did however take off later during the day but once again the weather hampered the search for the two missing planes. The weather this morning is still not conducive for flying. It is hoped that the weather will change during the day. Seven helicopters and 1 fixed wing aircraft will participate in the search as soon as the weather improves. Weather in the mountains can however change instantly for the better or worse. Despite the weather, the search will continue on foot today. To all the rescue teams out there keep warm and keep safe and best of luck for today.

We should bear in mind that the area the search is conducted in is very difficult terrain and that the current weather conditions is really hampering the search.

19h00 15 August 2011 - Debrief meeting at 18h00. Search called off for today. Will resume at first light weather premitting.

18h32 15 August 2011  - Allen Hobson ORRU writes: Update from ORRU Field Team Lead T68 Simon:

A debrief is underway from 18H00 for the teams up in Tzaneen.

A rather frustrating day, not to have any success in finding anything,
but those that know Wolkburg will know that the terrain, coupled with
adverse weather conditions, makes for a difficult search.
Various aircraft, fixed wing & heli's flew in & out of JOC when the
cloud ceiling lifted, but the clouds closed in almost as soon as they
cleared, forcing flight op's to be suspended periodically.

While some ORRU and MSAR Members Return Home tonight, Other Members
arrive at First Light on scene to continue the search

There are one or two area's of high probability that could not be
searched today, but hopefully, weather permitting, these will be
covered tomorrow.

Well done to all the Teams so far, Keep up the good work.

18h00 15 August 2011 - It's going to be a very long and cold night for all involved in this search and rescue operation. Keep safe and keep warm!! - SAWDIS

17h30 15 August 2011 - Search for two missing aircraft - Next 24 hours crucial for a successful search and rescue operation for survivors out in the open - SAWDIS

15h00 15 August 2011  -  SA Weather Satellite image: 15 August 2011 14h04 SAST

Image: NOAA19 (Ben Engelbrecht, Dundee) Click on image for larger view.

14h05 15 August 2011 - Aeronautical Search and Rescue denied reports that the wreckage of two light aircraft that went missing in George's Valley, Limpopo has been found.

"The search is still on. The weather is getting better so air rescue will resume shortly." said spokesperson Johnny Smith.

13h55 15 August 2011 - Once again the SAWDIS would like to confirm that the wreckage of missing planes has not been found.

NEWS JUST IN:   12h55 15 August 2011 No Wreckage of aircraft found according to Disaster Management despite radio reports.

Update: 12h00 15 August 2011  An Air-force helicopter with 10 rescue members on board has taken of from the Mopani Disaster Mangement Centrum in Tsaneen to search for the two missing Albetros aircraft. The search are currently taking place in the Wolkberg area in the George's Valley in the Tsaneen area.

Update: 09h50 15 August 2011  Santjie White (Aeronautical Search and Rescue) writes: An update.

The resources are going flat out even in the very trying conditions. Please keep them in your prayers and thoughts. Conditions are really against us at the moment.

Update 09h30 15 August 2011  WX deteriorating further in the search area. Low clouds, mist, bad light with light rain. Definitely not conducive conditions to fly and search in. Weather in the mountains can change instantly.  To all the rescue teams out there keep warm and keep safe.

Update: 08h00 15 August 2011  WX looks really foul in the search area. Rain also reported from the area. Here is the latest (08h00 SAST)  weather satellite image reflecting the current clouds in the search area.

Image: Eumetsat (Click on image for larger view.)

Update: 07h29 15 August 2011 - Alan Hobson ORRU writes: The Off Road Rescue Unit (ORRU) has been asked to send a team to assist with Search for the 2 missing Aircraft on route from Tzaneen to Rand Airport.

A Code Yellow went out yesterday Late Afternoon (16H05) regarding 2 aircraft that went missing on route from Tzaneen to Rant Airport.

The Code Orange Was Issued at 16H41 with Team assignment and RV Details.

Code Red Was Issues at 21H09 confirming team and Deployment.

The JHB team RV'd at 01H00 at Lonehill fire station and left via PTA to pick up the Pretoria part of the team.

The Team have arrived safely in Tzaneen and are about to have their Briefing

The Team consists of the Following Members:

T68 Simon

V72 Andy

H42 Bert / M29 as Shotgun

V93 Dean

M95 Chris

G05 Terry

V58 Russell

M18 Luke

V99 Wynand

W61 Gideon

W77 Bruce

W38 Paul

More information during the day as it becomes available.

Update: 06h00 15 August 2011 - Weather not looking good for an air search in the Georges Valley today. Low cloud base in the area.

Update: 04h00 15 August 2011 Santjie White (Aeronautical Search and Rescue)writes: Plan for today:

Members of the Mountain Club Search and Rescue with members of the Off Road Rescue Unit are on their way to Tzaneen as I write this. They will be joining the ground search parties at first light.

Volunteers from Gauteng with vehicles and ground search crews will also leave early morning to join the search.

Private volunteers from Tzaneen and Gauteng are briefed and ready with no less than 6 helicopters with 13 spotters in total as soon as the weather allows.

Airforce Caravan with specialised equipment and an Oryx helicopter will also join the search today at first light.

A JOC is in operation in Tzaneen and a very capable On-scene coordinator has been appointed by the ARCC.

The SAPS, Disaster management, Fire and Rescue and Traffic are also taking part.

We have indeed had many calls with people volunteering but as stated before, one can only have so many aircraft safely in a search area.

For all the volunteers, I can never thank you all enough for your help offered.

My heart is breaking as I write this as some of the people on board are my friends too. With some of them I also still had fun on Saturday and Saturday evening.

To the loved ones, families and friends, you are and forever will be in my thoughts and prayers and my promise to you is that I will not leave any stone unturned.

To all the search and rescue crews, I pray for your safety and that we find them quickly today.

Update: 21h15 - Bad light halted the air search this evening. Search will resume at first light tomorrow morning weather permitting.

20h30 14 August 2011 - A search and rescue mission is underway in search for two light aircraft missing between Tzaneen and Rand Airport in Germiston.  The search include land and air support.  Aeronautical Search and Rescue South Africa  confirmed that they are searching for two light aircraft that went missing after the Tzaneen air show that happened over the weekend.  Apparently the aircraft they took off 06 and turned right 180 deg onto a heading of approx 024 which would be the correct heading for Rand Airport in Germiston. Several aircraft are participating in the search under the under co-ordination of ARCC.

The weather at the time was not all that good but by all accounts flyable. Mountain tops was under cloud.
A 15-20kts tailwind component was present at 1500-2000ft AGL.  There was also significant turbulence over  the mountains as a result of the winds.

Image: Tzaneen Webcam (SAWS) in direction of Johannesburg. (Click on image for larger view.)

SAWDIS Observers/Radio Amateurs on route are advised to be on the lookout for the aircraft or emergency radio transmissions from the aircraft.  Members of the public are also requested to be on the lookout for the aircraft.  If you have any relative information, please contact your nearest police station,  airport or Aeronautical Search and Rescue South Africa.