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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 19944
Last updated: 18 November 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic C172 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna 172K
Registration: ZS-FJS
MSN: 172-57164
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Bandelierskop, ľkm west of the Louis Trichardt toll plaza on the N1, L -   South Africa
Phase: En route
Departure airport:FAGM (Rand Airport)
Destination airport:FALM (Makhado Air Force Base)
Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
The pilot and the passenger took off from Rand Airport on 07 October 2005 at 16:00 for a private flight to Air Force Base Makhado. The purpose of the flight was to attend the Fighter Meet that was going to be staged at the base on 08 October 2005. The pilot reported that due to a 15 knots headwind the flight time was increased by 15 minutes, which meant that he was going to land shortly after sunset, but still within the twilight. The pilot elected to over-fly Polokwane International Airport at a height of 800 feet because of low clouds from the east. The Polokwane Air Traffic Controller reported that the pilot was over- head at about 18:10. The pilot reported that the last call to the ATC was at 18:13 on leaving their traffic zone to the north. At the time he elected to fly slightly to the west of the N1 highway, which was well lit by the traffic on the road. As he approached the Louis Trichardt Toll Plaza, which was very well lit up, the pilot reported that he realized that the weather was deteriorating, and that he should turn around and return and land at Polokwane International Airport. All the time the pilot was transponding and therefore being tracked by Makhado radar and ATC. He stated that the last advisory was that ATC had him approaching the toll plaza and that he should turn left on track to the base. The pilot turned left away from the lights and immediately lost all visual references when he found himself in a low bank of mist. The pilot stated that he saw the landing lights of the aircraft on the ground. He pulled the power off and pulled back on the control stick in an attempt to fly the aircraft away from danger. The aircraft struck the ground hard, right wing first thereafter tumbling until the wreckage came to rest upside down 237 meters from the initial point of impact. The aircraft was destroyed during the accident sequence.

Probable Cause:
The pilot flew into deteriorating weather and in so doing did a large 270 degree turn in the cloud before coming down again. When he broke cloud he was pointing down at an angle of about 45 degrees and slightly left wing down. He pulled back on the control column and the aircraft hit the ground very hard on the wheels at an estimated speed in excess of 100 knots. The aircraft then took off again and hit a Euphorbia tree. The right wing was taken off at the root after hitting the tree and the plane swung left with the left wing acting as 'pole vault stick' launching the plane back into the air. The second landing on the wheels again was some 35 metres later. The rest of the crash sequence was a rolling motion side over side before the plane came to rest upside down as per the photos below. Miraculously they missed every major obstacle such as boulders and trees. The pilot puts the strength of the Cessna 172 as to the reason he and his passenger are alive today.

The pilot was flying very low due to low clouds and mist, which explains the question of him loosing reference while turning left away from the lights. A contributing factor was the pilot in command's decision not to land at Polokwane, but to proceed to his destination because of his media commitments. The pilot wanted to attend the briefing the following day.



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


Bandelierskop, Limpopo, October 8, 2005

Badelierskop, Limpopo, October 8, 2005

Bandelierskop, Limpopo, October8, 2005

Revision history:

25-May-2008 03:50 Topaz Added
20-Jun-2008 15:16 Topaz Updated
20-Jun-2008 15:18 Topaz Updated
20-Jun-2008 15:34 Topaz Updated
20-Jun-2008 15:38 Topaz Updated

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