9 January 2012

Namibia: Tourists Escape Plane Crash

Oshakati — A Cessna plane made an emergency landing on water on a pan in the Etosha National Park last week. The aircraft has since been retrieved and was transported to Windhoek yesterday for investigations on the cause of the accident.

A safari tour over Etosha National Park almost ended in tragedy early last week when the engine of the Cessna, carrying two American tourists, shut down while flying, causing the pilot to make an emergency landing in a pool of water in the famed game park.

The pilot and one of his two passengers sustained minor injuries when the Cessna 310 aircraft was forced to land prematurely.

The pilot, Jan Friede, of African Profile Safari, who is also a brother of the owner of the aircraft, was reportedly taking his passengers on a safari tour from Ongava Lodge to the eastern part of Namibia last week on Monday when the incident happened.

It is reported that the Cessna started to experience engine problems while airborne. This forced the pilot to land in water in a remote area of Etosha National Park.

Friede and the passenger seated in the front seat sustained minor injuries while the passenger at the back seat escaped without injuries.

The belly of the Cessna was badly damaged. However, there was no damage to the body of the aircraft itself.

The accident was allegedly discovered when the aircraft's Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) sent SOS signals to the air traffic controller in Windhoek. Friede and his passengers, identified as Marc Babej and his wife Erin Zavalkoff-Babej, were airlifted by helicopter to Mokuti Lodge after the air traffic controller officials called Med Rescue in Tsumeb.

Ministry of Works and Transport officials did not start with investigations immediately as the Cessna alle-gedly landed on a spot too deep in water, some 6km from the edge of water pan.

Director of the Aircraft Investigation Directorate in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Ericksson Nengola, said he and his team were only able to start with proper investigations yesterday as the Cessna was only airlifted by helicopter from the water on Saturday.

According to Nengola, his team had to dismantle the plane first before the helicopter could lift the parts out of water to Mokuti Lodge. The dismantled Cessna was transported to Windhoek yesterday where thorough investigations would be carried out.

According to Nengola, investigations would determine the exact cause of the engine failure.

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