today marks 8 years since ronnie died.
for those who do not know me well: ronnie was my husband, and father of my son francois. he died in an aeroplane crash on friday, 19 April 2002, at wonderboom airport, near pretoria. we had been married 16 years. he was 39 years and 5 days old. he was also a son, a brother, and a business man.
since i started this blog, i have been meaning to write a post describing some of the events that caused his death. there are 3 reasons for this:
i am often asked how he died. it makes it easier if i can just send that person a link with a description. while there are many brief mentions of the accident on the internet, none sum up the situation completely, and from a broad perspective. also, when i blog about something relating to his death, i can link to this post.
when someone searches the internet for ronnie, someone who knew him in the past, they will find this post, and know what happened.
when someone searches the internet for information on this particular accident, for whatever reason, they will find this post. it contains more information than any one other post i have found so far.
on that friday morning, ronnie left home at about 6am, and went to pretoria's wonderboom airport, from where he was going to fly with his 2 friends and co-workers, hendrik smit and jacques swanepoel, to tzaneen, for a business meeting. hendrik was the pilot.
the aeroplane they were flying in, was a cessna 177RG (registration ZS-JMW). shortly after takeoff, at about 07h27, they crashed into a wall and boma on a residential property in klippan street, about 1km south east of the airport. all 3 people on board were killed on impact. the plane burst into flames, and the wall, boma and plane were destroyed.
the cessna was full of fuel, and the fuel tanks are in the wings. crash damage to the wings meant that the entire area was drenched in aviation fuel, and the fire was intense and consumed everything.
subsequent investigations by the civil aviation authority found that both the pilot and the air traffic controller were at fault. as it is the air traffic controller's job to oversee the flow of air traffic, he should have seen that the pilot was on the wrong runway. he gave conflicting and confusing instructions.
i know there are people would be interested in reading accident reports. my father and brother, who are both pilots, find these informative. i link to the full, 18 page accident report from the civil aviation authority here. you are welcome to read it if you wish.
every year i am surprised at how intense my emotions during the week from his birthday (14 april) to the anniversary of his death (19 april). although i have grieved, and overcome my grief, it still affects me every april. even after 8 years.
i often blog about dealing with ronnie's death, and the journey and growth that came from it. but, i assure you that i am fine. i have found new happiness with mike. he is a wonderful man, and we have been together about 6.5 years. i do not grieve, and cry, and mope every day. i do have issues, and fond memories, and 'what if's. i am always sad on francois' birthdays, and at his graduation ceremonies, and when i see what a wonderful young man he has become. his dad would have been proud. and i am sad for ronnie's mom and dad, who's son is lost forever, and his brother and sister, who's 'ouboet' will never be with them again.
the growth i have experienced during those 8 years has been incredible. this event has formed me as i am today, more than any other, bar the birth of my son. if ronnie were to come back today, he would not recognise me. i am not the woman he once knew. i am better. you don't have to feel sorry for me. really!
you can read what i wrote about his last birthday here.
you can read more blog posts on dealing with ronnie's death here.