CAA investigating how student pilot crashed into Kowie River in Port Alfred

MARCH 31, 2016

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is currently investigating a light aircraft crash that took place in Port Alfred on Wednesday morning.

"At 10h11, Wednesday, 30th March, NSRI Port Alfred duty crew were activated following reports of an aircraft accident on the Kowie River, approximately 15 kilometers up river," said Craig Lambinon, spokesperson at the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).

"A sea rescue craft was launched and on arrival on the scene a 20 year-old pilot was found on the river bank and a single engine light aircraft was found submerged in the river."

He said that the SA Police Services, Port Alfred Fire and Rescue Services and EC Government Health EMS were also activated.

"The student pilot, from 43 Air School, the only occupant of the aircraft, was not injured and he was treated only for shock by NSRI medics.

"The pilot was brought to the sea rescue station in Port Alfred aboard the sea rescue craft and transported by sea rescue volunteers to a local doctor for further medical assessments but released requiring no medical treatment," said Lambinon.

"It appears that the student pilot, on a navigational training flight, made an emergency landing following suspected engine failure during circuits and landings at Port Alfred Airfield. iI is believed that a wing clipped a fence causing the aircraft to veer and ditch into the river."

SA National Park rangers and a Traffic Services officer were transported to the crash site by NSRI and the aircraft was later recovered from the water by authorities.

Attie Nieman, CEO of 43 Air School, in a statement, commended the student pilot for what appeared to be a textbook emergency landing in a very challenging area near to the Kowie River.

Below is the full statement from 43 Air School on the incident:

43 Airschool confirm that one of its students executed an emergency landing on the banks of the Kowie and that is was a Piper Cherokee 180 registration ZS-PEX around 11am today.

Most importantly the solo student pilot escaped unharmed and executed what appears to be a textbook emergency landing in a very challenging area near the Kowie River about 2nm NW of Port Alfred Airfield.

The student was returning form a Navigation exercise and was doing circuits and landings at the Port Alfred Airfield when he experienced engine problems.

Immediately after the solo student pilot declared the emergency the Port Alfred NSRI was dispatched to the scene which was a good 15 min upriver.

The fast response and help was a great comfort at this crucial time of dispatching the search and potential rescue.

The aircraft at the end of its landing roll clipped through a fence and ended up in the Kowie River.

The student pilot demonstrated his good training by unlatching the door in time and escaped from the aircraft unharmed.

For this we are all most thankful.

The full investigation as to the cause is underway under the auspices of the SACAA and with full assistance from 43 Air School.

Recovery of the aircraft is currently underway.

Images: 43 Air School via Facebook