Wonderful Engineering

Pilots Behind Homemade Plane Flight Across Africa Die In Crash

Two South African pilots who were involved in a project for teens that dealt with building a homemade plane and flying it across Africa have died in a crash that took place in Tanzania. Des Werner and Werner Froneman were in a small plane supporting teenagers who had last month flown a homebuilt aircraft from Cape Town to Cairo.

The pilots had originally planned to travel from Uganda to Malawi before their return to South Africa on Monday. Hamza Johari, Director General for the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, says that they requested to land in Tanzania on Saturday after reporting engine problems.

The light aircraft that was being flown by Des Werner and Werner Froneman made a safe landing at Tabora in central Tanzania. Once the pilots were sure that the engine problem had been fixed, they took off again. The plane crashed five minutes after this takeoff. Johari said, ‘They sorted out the problems and took off, but after five minutes they reported a similar problem and requested to return.’

U Dream Global, the South African organization that was behind the Cape to Cairo project, has stated that it has been devastated by the news. It released a statement on Facebook saying, ‘U Dream Global: Cape to Cairo Challenge is devastated to report that there has been an accident of the flight support aircraft and that the project directors, Des Werner, and Werner Froneman, have lost their lives.’

U Dream Global was founded by a teenager and motivational speaker Megan Werner, who is Des Werner’s daughter. The Cape to Cairo project took twenty inexperienced teenagers from various backgrounds and taught them how to build a Sling-4 aircraft within three weeks. During early July, the crew completed the trip from Cape Town to Cairo. The trip was 12,000 kilometers long. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the pilots.