A South African Air Force (SAAF) Douglas C-47 Dakota transport aircraft crashed in the Giants Castle area of the Drakensberg mountain range on 5 December, according to the South African government.

The World War Two era aircraft was flying from Waterkloof air force base near the South African capital of Pretoria to Mthatha airport in the Eastern Cape Province when it went missing at about 09:45 local.



"After the expected time of arrival and no communication from the aircraft, the SAAF activated a search and rescue mission. Severe weather conditions in the area hindered the continuation of the search and rescue effort," the SAAF says. "It is with regret and a great sense of loss that we confirm the loss of SAAF members in an aircraft accident, which occurred on 5 December 2012 in the area of Giants Castle within Drakensberg mountain range. On board the aircraft was a crew of six and five passengers and it was confirmed that there are no survivors."

The SAAF says, "A board of inquiry has been convened to investigate the circumstances surrounding the cause of the accident."

The SAAF is one of the few remaining air forces in the world to operate the venerable Dakota. In South African service, the seven-decade old aircraft have been upgraded with new Pratt &Whiney PT-6 turboprops engines. Nonetheless, at some point the SAAF must start looking for a replacement for the long-serving machine.

Source: Flight International