PLETTENBERG BAY NEWS - Pilot Stu Lithgow "was a gentleman who shared his passion with many".
This and many other tributes were pouring in after Lithgow and another man died when the light aircraft they were travelling in, crashed near the local airport on Monday 2 December.
The wreckage was found in the Plettenberg Bay Airport Business Park and the incident happened just before 18:00.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Chris Spies said both the passenger and the pilot sustained serious injuries. "The passenger died on the scene while the pilot was taken to a hospital in Knysna where he also died later," Spies said.
The Western Cape health department's emergency medical services attempted to save the two men. They were assisted by several other organisations including members of the local National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI).
"The two patients were trapped in the aircraft. Sadly one was fatally injured on the scene and the other passed away in hospital. Our sincere condolences to the family of the two deceased as circumstances around the crash are being investigated by the police," said provincial health department spokesperson Deanna Bessick.
Spies confirmed that a culpable homicide case has been opened as a matter of course and that SAPS guarded the scene before handing it over to the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).
The regulator did not respond to questions relating to the matter before going to print. It is still unclear what the cause of the accident was.
In the meantime tributes have started pouring in.
SAFlyer/FlightCom magazine celebrated Lithgow, whose career started with the SA Air Force. According to the magazine, he then went on to become an SAA captain before retiring. He was also a team member of The Flying Lions and became a well-known local pilot around Knysna and Plett flying his RV-7 and SF-25 Falke.
"You were a gentleman and shared your passion with many. We will remember you," the magazine said.
His former Flying Lions team-mates also made a poignant tribute. "We shared many hours in the air together enjoying the magic of flight in Pitts Specials, Harvards and occasionally in Airbus A340s. He had a huge love for aviation, and after retiring from SAA moved to Plett to enjoy a quieter life at the coast, where he flew his RV and glider. You will be sorely missed StewBalls."
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