SOUTH AFRICA. Pretoria: Two pilots from the SANDF were killed on the morning of March 17, when the Patchen Explorer plane they were flying crashed while approaching the runway at Swartkop Air force base in Pretoria.
The crash claimed the lives of retired 71-year-old Major General Desmond Barker and retired 69-year-old Colonel Rama Lyer.
Barker is survived by his wife and two sons and Lyer by his wife, son and daughter.
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“The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr Thabang Makwetla, the Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Solly Shoke and the Acting Chief of the South African Air Force, Major General Mzayifani Innocent Buthelezi have expressed their heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased pilots,” the SANDF said in a statement.
More about the Explorer
The Patchen Explorer is a small plane powered by a single Lycoming 200 horsepower motor with a variable pitch propeller mounted above the wing on a pylon.
The Aerofab Corporation of Sanford, Maine in the United States constructed the prototype in 1972 and it was first flown in October that year by test pilot Win Young.
According to online aviation magazine Pilot’s Spot, the Explorer never went into production and only one was ever built. It was designed as a land version of the TSC-1 Teal amphibious aircraft and the project was bankrolled by the late Marvin Patchen, owner of Marvin Patchen Incorporated.
The Patchen Explorer made its first flight as an SAAF aircraft in September 1975.
Last year, an SAAF plane crash-landed at Goma Airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it had been deployed as part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission. No one was injured in that incident.