Brit pilot 'living the dream' killed in helicopter crash months after engagement

A British pilot died in a helicopter crash in South Africa, where he “lived the dream” and was engaged to his girlfriend four months earlier.

Edinburgh’s Stewart Graham, 25, was killed early in the morning while spraying pesticides on Koos Moller’s pear orchards in Wolseley, Western Cape, South Africa.

It was up in the air at 4 a.m. and had refueled almost two hours later when tragedy struck.

His Bell Jet Ranger, loaded with 295 kilograms of pesticide and a sprayer under the helicopter, is said to have cut the earth cable of a power pole and fell nose first into the ground after it broke apart in midair.

The Scottish pilot was unfortunately killed instantly in the tragic incident on January 19th.

After a four-month investigation published June 4, the Civil Aviation Authority said there had been no signs of mechanical failure in the moments before the crash in very good weather conditions.

The report added, “It is possible that the helicopter was in a nose down at the time of the collision with the earth conductor.

“This may have prompted the pilot to perform an evasive maneuver which could have resulted in one of the main rotor blades severing the left front and center sections of the helicopter and the tail boom section.

Pilot Stewart Graham's tweet about flying in South Africa

The location of the wreck

“The distribution of the wreck suggests some in-flight destruction, which resulted in the debris from the helicopter, some 80 meters in diameter, being scattered around the main wreck.”

Graham worked as operations manager for Heli X Charters and had flown over 1,360 hours since his commercial license in 2017.

According to the TimesLIVE news site, he had 500 hours of flight experience in the single-engine Bell Jet Ranger helicopter, which is widely used for spraying plants in southern Africa.

He too had got engaged four months before his death and called it “a privilege to live and fly in such a beautiful country”.


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