(Caricom News Network)- GEORGETOWN, Guyana, April 13, 2013 – One pilot and one technical expert have been killed after their United States-registered airplane crashed into a house at Sparendaam shortly after takeoff from the Ogle International Airport at Georgetown, Guyana.
One of the dead persons has been identified as Pierre Angiel, the pilot of the twin-engine Piper Aztec aircraft bearing registration N2-7FT. The plane belonged to the Miami-based Angiel EnviroSafe Inc, which offers aerial camera platform services. His son said he was an experienced pilot and would have made it back to the airport on one engine.
He told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) that his father had expressed discomfort about the slow flying over the forest canopy so that the instruments could have read the data for a LIDAR survey.
The technical expert was a Canadian but his name has been withheld for the time being.
The Government Information Agency (GINA) quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the plane’s engines began misfiring. The engines then reportedly lost power and the pilot attempted to land in the Plaisance Community playfield but failed, hitting the top of a coconut tree before crashing into a house and exploding on impact. The incident occurred shortly before 3 PM. Except for the engines, the remainder of the aircraft was destroyed beyond recognition.
69-year old Florence Dyer-Tyndall, who was at the rear of the wooden house on 78 Sparendaam Housing Scheme, cheated death by running out of the burning building.
Transport Minister Robeson Benn said the pilot and co-pilot perished but he declined to release their names before a local embassy and family members were notified. He said the cause of the crash appeared to have been engine failure. “It took off with six hours of fuel from Ogle Airport and it looks like it lost an engine and then crashed,” Benn told reporters at the scene of the crash.
He confirmed that the plane was on a technical survey mission for the Amaila Falls hydropower access road to do a LIDAR survey for the best geometrical and other alignments for the road.
Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Zulfikar Mohammed said investigators would be going through the rubble and taking eyewitness accounts. “We have to go through the site and look at whatever is available and use first hand information –observer’s information- and you take whatever is available there and do an analysis.
“We have to retrieve the engines to ensure that that is properly examined to determine if that was part of the cause of the accident,” he said. Mohammed said the plane was about to embark on a second mission for the day after having just refueled.
A distraught Dyer-Tyndall, who was being comforted in a nearby yard by relatives and villagers, briefly recounted her experience to reporters. “I was taking off my skirt to change my clothes and I heard like a ‘boom’ and I asked was ‘who shooting?’ and when I do look, the house rock.
“I say ‘eh, eh is what is this?’ and then I saw the fire to the wall and then something go ‘boom’ again and I run out because I was standing to the back door and I ran through the fence and the whole house was on fire,” she said.
Tyndall, who is a former care-giver, lived in the house with her three grandchildren.
High-ranking officers of the Guyana Police Force, Guyana Defence Force and the Guyana Fire Service were on the scene. The crash-site was expected to be secured to avoid further contamination by hundreds of residents who rushed to the scene.