Air crash witness: ‘Fire dept was slow’

Plane crash victim Glen Dell’s friend says rescue workers didn’t know what they were doing.

Glen Dell’s aircraft is photographed moments before crashing into the ground at the Secunda Airshow on 12 October 2013. Picture: @Lekrom/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Friends and family of a South African Airways (SAA) pilot who died after his aircraft crashed during the Secunda Airshow in Mpumalanga on Saturday have blamed the fire department for his death.

Glen Dell was airlifted to the Sunninghill Hospital after his aircraft crashed and caught fire.

But his friends and family say the fire department took too long to get to the scene.

Dell's friend, Athol Franz, says the fire fighters were very slow to respond.

"The plane sat like that for three and a half minutes before the fire started erupting. It took the fire department more than five minutes to get there - and they were already on the airfield!"

He added, "They just ambled around. They didn't know what they were doing."

Spectators believe the light aircraft's engine stalled seconds before it went down.

Dell sustained multiple burn wounds to his entire body in the resulting blaze.

The Civil Aviation Authority is now investigating what caused the Red Bull Extra 300 plane to crash.

Eyewitness Morkel Erasmus says the aircraft slid on the ground for more than 50 metres before it went up in flames.

He says Dell was trapped in the cockpit as the flames erupted.

ACCOMPLISHED PILOT

Dell was a South African commercial airline trainer and aerobatics pilot who started flying at the age of 16.

He joined SAA in 1988 flying Boeing 747s and 767s.

In 2007, he qualified to race in the Red Bull World Series season.

At the sixth Advanced World Aerobatic Championships (AWAC) in 2004, Dell finished first overall and became the first South African to win the Advanced World Aerobatic Championships.

Apart from winning the gold medal for first overall place, he also won a further gold medal, a silver medal and a bronze medal in various programmes that were flown.