Johannesburg – Tragedy replaced the joy of the momentous occasion of an initial solo flight for a young female pilot amid raging questions of her flight centre’s culpability in the fatal Midrand crash.
On Monday, Lanseria Flight Centre student pilot, who has been identified as Kutlwano by aviation sources, crashed into a suburban backyard in Vorna Valley, Midrand, where she died on the scene and also killing the family home’s gardener.
A source close to the proceedings said Kutlwano was heard screaming over the radio moments before smashing into the backyard.
The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said Kutlwano was informed by her control tower to orbit or turn back because she was too close to another aircraft on the Grand Central Airport circuit.
The source said an orbit loosely entailed a medium-level turn where a pilot has to bank (or tilt) at a 30-degree angle, but Kutlwano had overbanked past the stipulated angle, which led to the crash.
This information was corroborated by flight instructor Mark Miller, who said he had instructed “many hours” on the Grand Central Airport circuit, and had witnessed the crash.
“What struck me as odd was the severe angle of bank – it appeared to be more than 60 degrees.
“The aircraft continued its turn and passing through about 360 degrees. The nose dropped into what looked like a textbook spiral dive entry,” Miller said.
Miller wrote on the flight-enthusiast website AvCom, where he said he tried to contact the flight school, to no avail.
Another user on the site, writing under a pseudonym, said he trained at Grand Central Airport and was “a little perplexed as to why a controller would put a solo student into an orbit on a downwind”.
The Star contacted the Lanseria Flight Centre on Monday, but a woman, who did not identify herself, said the school would not comment on the crash because it was awaiting a report.
She refused to give details about the nature of the report they were waiting for.
Meanwhile, there was an outpouring of emotion from Kutlwano’s colleagues, who had wanted to share in her joy of her first solo flight.
“She was supposed to land and go to the fuel bay to get splashed with water on the most memorable achievement in aviation.
“She was then supposed to call her parents and share with them this moment. Unfortunately, the one thing everyone dreads happened.
“She’s flying with angels now,” wrote Twitter user @SkyBound777_.