By DEON VAN DER MERWE
A SHOUTED profanity, repeated warning shouts of “pull up,
pull up” and then just silence tells of the final
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
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
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
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
Caught up in thick cloud, the aircraft headed straight for
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.