Astra lands minus passengerDate: 29 October 2009
By Dean Wingrin
In a highly unusual incident, a SAAF Astra training aircraft landed with one person less than which it took off!
The PC-7 MkII Astra, a two-seat training aircraft, is used by the Central flying School for pilot training as well as being the aircraft flown by the SAAF's Silver Falcon aerobatic team. A member of the aerobatic team, Capt Gerhard Lourens, who occupies the number four position in the five man team, was flying with a civilian passenger in the rear seat yesterday when the passenger unintentionally initiated the ejection seat.
The ejection seat is normally only used when the pilots need to exit the aircraft in a dire emergency as the aircraft is about to crash.
It would appear that the passenger, who had been briefed on ejection seat safety before the flight, decided to use the ejection initiation handle to steady themselves during an aerobatic manouvre.
The unknown passenger landed without serious injury, apart from that to their pride. Lourens contacted AFB Langebaanweg and a SAAF Oryx helicopter that was on a training mission nearby was called in to recover the passenger.
The Astra landed safely, but has suffered damage from the ejection sequence.