said Dave Stock was from the coastal resort town of Hermanus, aged 46. His last recorded words were:
Hydraulic malfunction. I’m bailing out. Ejection seat malfunction.
Stock was flying a 1960s-era British Lightning jet fighter belonging to the Thunder City company – reportedly one of only four still flying in the world.
It was at first thought Stock had bailed out but later it became clear that the ejector seat had failed completely. Overberg Air Force Base commander, Colonel Marius van der Heever, said:
Right up until the end, Dave had communication with the tower and he was fully conscious when he crashed. There were also indications that he could not eject successfully.
The Civil Aviation Authority will begin an investigation tomorrow.
Stock set the South African speed and height record at an air show in 2005 by climbing to 9,000 metres (27,000 feet) in 1 minute, 43 seconds.
The English Electric Lightning first flew in 1954 and went into service with Britain’s Royal Air Force in 1959. During the 1960s, it was used in a strategic capacity on so-called ”Quick Reaction Alerts” (QRAs) intercepting Soviet long-range aircraft deliberately entering British air space.
The Lightning was also flown by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.