Transcripts from plane crash

will reveal how Cronje died

 
 
CAA compiles extensive report ahead of inquest

By DEON VAN DER MERWE

A SHOUTED profanity, repeated warning shouts of “pull up, pull up” and then just silence tells of the final

 moments experienced by shamed former South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje.

Cronje died along with two pilots in a Hawker Siddeley 748 aircraft which crashed into the mist-covered Outeniqua mountains near George at 7.20am on June 1, 2002.

Now, according to yesterday’s Rapport newspaper, copies and transcripts from the cockpit voice recorder recovered from the doomed cargo aircraft form part of an extensive report prepared by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for an inquest due to begin in Cape Town today.

The CAA report attempts to determine what caused the fatal accident which also claimed the lives of senior captain Willie Meyer and his co-pilot Ian Noakes, while the inquest will determine whether anyone can be held responsible and prosecuted for their deaths.

The flight was a routine postal run from Bloemfontein to George, which Cronje had used on previous occasions to fly home to his golfing estate home.

While the voice recordings only reflect the conversation between the two pilots, Cronje, who was strapped into one of the two seats directly behind them, must have realised something was seriously wrong.

For 69-year-old Meyer, with close on 21,000 hours flying time, it was just another routine flight to George.

His 50-year-old British co-pilot Noakes was less experienced with 1099 hours in logbook.

It was Noakes who was at the controls when the flight took off from Bloemfontein.

According to Rapport, from the recording it appears that both pilots were in good spirits until about 30 minutes before the crash.

At 6.55am the aircraft was still on track to land.

The newspaper said Meyer is clearly heard telling Noakes at that state ... “I know the mountains are now well behind us”.

But minutes later there were problems. Because of the adverse weather the pilots had to make use of the instrument landing system (ILS) to make a safe landing at George airport.

But the ILS on runway 29 was not working and there was no air traffic controller on duty, the newspaper reported.

According to the CAA report, the pilots, despite not getting confirmation that they could not use the ILS, acted in contravention of instructions by still depending on it anyway.

At 7.06am Meyer said: “I see a little ground, but it’s not all that wonderful”.

Seconds later Noakes spotted a warning on the instrument panel that the ILS was out of order, but they continued their descent.

Rapport’s article shows the confusion between the two pilots over several minutes as they try and work out what is happening.

As they spoke, a strong wind had pushed the aircraft northwards in the direction of the Outeniqua mountains.

The report suggests that neither pilot was aware of this because the aircraft’s navigational instruments were not functioning properly.

Caught up in thick cloud, the aircraft headed straight for the mountains.

In the final minutes, Meyer had taken over the controls from Noakes and Noakes shouted “pull up”.

This is followed by more shouts of “pull up ... pull up” followed by silence.

When rescuers found the aircraft, Cronje was still strapped into his seat.

Noakes’ body was trapped in the cockpit and Meyer’s was found outside the wreck.

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