Aircraft Crashes After Crocodile on Board Escapes and Sparks Panic

A small airliner crashed into a house, killing a British pilot and 19 others after a crocodile smuggled into the aircraft in a sports bag escaped and sparks a panic.

The Let 410 turbo prop plane like this one hit the ground just short of the regional airport of Bandundu. Photo: Farl/Flickr

A plane crash during a flight in the Democratic Republic of Congo was caused when a crocodile escaped from a sports bag and caused a stampede in the cabin, throwing the aircraft off balance, reports the Telegraph online.

The small plane was thrown off balance by a stampede of passengers trying to avoid the reptile. It has only now emerged that a lone survivor apparently told investigators about the crocodile.

39-year-old First Officer  Chris Wilson, 39, died alongside Belgian pilot 62-year-old Danny Philemotte, 62, when the twin-engined plane crashed into a house a few hundred yards from its destination in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The occupants of the property were outside at the time. The plane came down despite no apparent mechanical problems during an internal flight from the capital, Kinshasa, to Bandundu regional airport on August 25.

British pilot Chris Wilson from Shurdington, near Cheltenham was the First Officer on the flight. Photo: Cascade News via Daily Telegraph (UK)

A report of the incident by news organisation Jeune Afrique said: “According to the inquiry report and the testimony of the only survivor, the crash happened because of a panic sparked by the escape of a crocodile hidden in a sports bag.”

“One of the passengers had hidden the animal, which he planned to sell, in a big sports bag, from which the reptile escaped as the plane began its descent into Bandundu. The terrified air hostess hurried towards the cockpit, followed by the passengers.”

The plane was then sent off-balance ‘despite the desperate efforts of the pilot’, said the report. “The crocodile survived the crash before being cut up with a machete.”

A crocodile like this one was sneaked on to the plane by a passenger in a large sports bag. It is believed to have escaped as the plane came into land. Photo: Mark Murray/Flickr

Mr Wilson’s mother 78-year-old Jean paid tribute to her son in her local paper in Shurdington, Gloucestershire. She said: “He loved flying and he worked hard to fulfil his dream of becoming a pilot. He had three jobs at once just to pay for his training. He absolutely adored flying.”

“I’m very proud of him for working so hard. He loved life and did everything he could to achieve his dream. There have been so many messages from people he has known through the years. We didn’t realise so many people cared for him,” she added.

The plane was a Czech-made Let L-410 Turbolet, one of more than 1,100 produced as short-range transport aircraft and used mainly for passenger services. [via Daily Telegraph (UK), Daily Mail (UK) and Metro (UK)]

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