A Qantas pilot is in a critical condition in hospital after a vintage plane crash in South Africa that left two other people dead.
- The aircraft that crashed was more than 60 years old, and was soon to be housed in an aviation museum
- Many of the people on board were believed to be pilots
- It is not known whether the Qantas pilots were flying the plane
Ross Kelly and Douglas Haywood — both Qantas pilots from Sydney — were among 19 people on board the Convair-340 near Johannesburg when it went down on Tuesday.
The plane crashed through a factory, badly injuring two people, before coming to rest.
One of those patients subsequently died.
Video shows smoke pouring from the aircraft, which was 64 years old, shortly after take-off.
An emergency services spokesman described the scene as “chaotic” and said one person on board the plane was also killed.
Four people were trapped in the wreck and had to be freed with rescue tools.
Mr Kelly is said to be in a critical condition while Mr Haywood and another Australian, who was a passenger, are stable.
Mr Kelly's wife Lyndal was also on the plane.
The two Australian pilots had been hired to be involved in the flight as they had previously been part of a restoration of a similar aircraft.
Both pilots had flown for Qantas for more than 30 years, including as A380 captains, and had a combined 37,000 hours flying experience.
Mr Kelly is retired.
A Qantas spokesperson said its pilot community was in shock.
“We were deeply upset to learn that two Qantas pilots, one current and one retired, were onboard the vintage aircraft involved in an accident in South Africa on Tuesday,” the statement said.
“They are currently in hospital being treated for serious injuries.
“This news has shocked the Qantas pilot community and everyone's thoughts are with the families.
“We've reached out and are providing whatever support we can.”
Flight was thank you ‘joy ride' for restoration team
The aircraft had just finished being restored so it could be flown to its new home, the aerospace museum Aviodrome in the Netherlands.
According to Aviodrome, the plane had been donated by its South African owner Rovos Rail after it failed to sell the historic aircraft.
It had been used in South African safaris but hadn't been flown for commercial purposes since 2009.
Aviodrome pledged 350,000 euros to restore the plane and prepare it for its flight to the Netherlands and employed a specialist team to do it.
The ABC understands yesterday's flight was a test flight, but also a joy ride for those involved in the restoration to thank them for their work.
The plane, built in 1954, was only suitable to fly short distances.
Aviodrome says it was to fly from South Africa via Zambia, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, Croatia and Austria before it reached Lelystad Airport in the Netherlands by the end of the year.