Three Australians, including two Qantas pilots, are in hospital after a deadly plane crash in South Africa left them seriously injured.
The crash occurred during a test flight in Pretoria on Tuesday. The vintage Convair-340 plane slammed into a dairy farm, killing a South African crewman and injuring the Qantas pilots, Ross Kelly and Douglas Haywood, as well as 18 other passengers.
A factory worker who was at the site of the crash was critically injured during the accident and later died.
The Sydney-based pilots were taken to a hospital in Johannesburg with serious injuries. Mr Kelly’s wife Lyndall was also on-board the aircraft during the crash and has been taken to hospital in a stable condition.
Mr Kelly was recently retired from Qantas and a friend of his has told 9NEWS that he had been working on a project to rebuild the vintage plane for months before the accident.
“Ross is among the most experienced pilots and was well versed in this sort of aircraft operations,” said Andy Hardy. “He has ferried vintage aircraft from the US and Europe back to Australia several times.
“Reality is, there are risks with older aircraft that are restored and looks as if the engine has let him down at a critical moment.”
The Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association Australia also posted a message about the crash to their Facebook page, giving insight to the current state of their injuries.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Australia pilot, co-pilot and passenger who were on-board a Convair C-131d which has crashed today in South Africa,” the statement read. “The passenger and co-pilot are said to be in a stable condition, with the pilot critically injured.
“The conveyor was being prepared for a delivery flight to the Dutch city of Leystad, where it was to go on display at the Avidrome museum.”
A Qantas spokesperson also told the Australian, “We were deeply upset to learn that two Qantas pilots, one current and one retired were on board the vintage aircraft involved in an accident in South Africa on Tuesday.”
The short flight from Wonderboom Airport to Pilanesberg is said to have been a weight test for the vintage aircraft before it made the journey to it’s new home. The plane is believed to have faltered soon after take-off and crashed into nearby building.