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Statement from Sasol and the Tiger Aerobatic Team

Date: 
14 September 2005

Sasol, the Sasol Tiger team and families deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Gabriel Ndabandaba and Johnny Hattingh

The tragic deaths of Sasol Tiger Team pilots, Gabriel Siyabonga Ndabandaba and Johnny "Jet" Hattingh in an aircraft accident at Vereeninging Airfield on Saturday, 10 September, is a great loss to Sasol, the pilots' families, the Tiger aerobatic team and the public at large.
 
The two pilots had broken away from their four-plane display formation to begin a solo when their plane spiralled out of control, hit the ground and burst into flames.
 
Gabriel was an icon, humble, admired, passionate and a true ambassador. Johhny Hattingh was a wonderful family man and a true gentleman. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has started an investigation into the cause of the crash, such investigation taking up to a few months to conclude. Ndabandaba was flying the aircraft and Hattingh was in the back seat, acting as his safety pilot.
 
Ralf Dominick, the leader of the Sasol Tigers, on Sunday said the team's whole display went according to plan until the accident happened. The team, consisting of four L-29-Delfin jets were in diamond formation. Ndabandaba banked to the left as the rest of the team banked right concluding their display. He broke away at exactly the right moment, but moments later the plane hit the ground and exploded into a ball of fire. Dominick and the rest of the team realised the plane had crashed only when they turned - "there was not a word spoken over the radio".
 
"The outpouring of support and sympathy for the families and team, from various levels of government, the aviation community and public at large has been overwhelming and most appreciated, " added Dominick.
 
The SAAF aerobatic team, the Silver Falcons, will open the Zwartkop Air Force base's airshow this Saturday (17 September) with the "missing man" display in memory of the two pilots.
 
The organisers of next Saturday's airshow at Mafikeng International Airport have also dedicated their event to memories of Ndabandaba and Hattingh.
 
Dominick and Martin van Straaten will fly their two Sasol Tigers at the airshow as well. The remaining third L-29 belonged to Hattingh.
 
"The sponsorship and personal association between Sasol and the Tiger team has for the past two years been one of the most meaningful and rewarding partnerships for Sasol," said a Sasol spokesperson. "Right now our focus is to support the families and team and help them re-build to again become, as they are renowned, the best aerobatic formation team in this country."
 
The Sasol Tiger Jets are the only privately-owned jet team in the world. Gabriel Ndabandaba who was a distinguished pilot and was the first black jet pilot to join the Sasol Tigers. Johnny Hattingh was the team’s super flying enthusiast. He obtained his private pilots licence in 1994. He was the director of a successful engineering company. Johnny has flown the L29 to a number of airshows as a solo ferry pilot.
 
Funeral and memorial service arrangements:
 
GABRIEL NDABANDABA
 
A memorial service will be held at 12h30 tomorrow (15 September) at the Durban Exhibition Centre.
 
The funeral service will be held at 10h30 on Saturday at the Durban International Conference Centre (ICC)
 
JOHNNY HATTINGH
 
The funeral service will be held at 11h00 next Monday (19 September) at the St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rivonia, Sandton
 
MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR BOTH GABRIEL AND JOHNNY (TUESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER)
 
Sasol, Airshow South Africa (ASSA) and the Tiger Team invite all members of the aviation community and friends of the families to join them for a service to commemorate the amazing contribution that both Johnny and Gabriel have made to the airshow / aviation world in South Africa - at 11h00 next Tuesday (20 September) at Skyraiders function venue, Rand Airport, Germiston.
 
ASSA will utilise the occasion to announce the formation of a Benevolent Trust Fund, in memory of the two pilots.
 
Ends

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