A group of teenagers who were involved in building a plane that flew from Cape to Cairo are shattered following the deaths of two of their project directors.
The two directors were killed when their light aircraft registered in SA crashed in Tanzania on Saturday.
One of the deceased is Desmond Werner, 58, the father of Megan Werner, 17, the founder of U-Dream Global – an initiative for pupils to build planes using an engineering manual.
The project made international headlines in June when pupils successfully built a four-seater Sling aircraft and then flew it from Cape Town to Cairo in July.
According to the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, the crashed Sling plane, which entered Tanzanian airspace from Uganda en route to Malawi, made a distress signal about engine failure before disappearing from the radar.
The plane was destroyed by fire after the crash and only the engine and some other parts were recovered. It was owned by U-Dream Global.
Desmond Froneman, 36, were the project directors of the teenagers’ project. They were support pilots for the teenagers’ journey from Cape Town to Cairo.
U-Dream Global spokesperson Simon Manda said at the time of the crash the teenagers were waiting for the two in Malawi to fly back home with them.
“We were like family and losing Des and Werner has left all of us shattered. Megan has lost her father and we will give her all the support during this difficult time,” said Manda.
“The kids are all shattered. It’s terrible and they are not well. They are very traumatised.
“It’s a very sad moment, unexplainable, this has happened at a time when they were supposed to be celebrating their achievement because the plane they built made it successfully from Cape to Cairo.”
Manda said the death of Werner and Froneman has made U-Dream Global more determined to carry out the aviation education across the world.
“We will keep the African dream that these remarkable men have left us a legacy and reach out to every child who has an aviation future,” said Manda.
Manda said the organisation was making arrangements for the bodies of Werner and Froneman to be brought back to SA.