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Waterkloof landing: Pilot was lost

The Austrian student compromised Waterkloof air space after becoming disorientated.

Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria. Picture:Christa Van der Walt/EWN

PRETORIA - An Austrian student pilot conducting a night training exercise was lost when he ventured into military airspace and landed at Waterkloof Airforce Base on Tuesday night.

The pilot was reportedly conducting training flights between Lanseria and Grand Central Airports when he got lost.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) says the student became disorientated and lost his route due to dizziness.

It also emerged that the aircraft's transponder wasn't functioning when the Lanseria tower told the pilot that he could not be traced on radar.

On Wednesday, the SANDF confirmed it impounded the light civilian aircraft which is registered at Grand Central Airport.

The three occupants were detained at Lyttelton police station for questioning before being released.

Various law enforcement agencies are investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, the SANDF's Pikkie Greef said the incident revealed weaknesses in the management of the base.

"The military management has just proven that it is completely inept when it comes to dealing with matters relating to Waterkloof Air Force base."

Greef said the suspects' only sin was that they "were not friends with the president", referring to the Gupta family.

In April, the controversial family landed a private jet carrying about 200 wedding guests at the Centurion base, sparking a national outcry.

A snap debate on the debacle was later held in Parliament.

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