Newly-engaged pilot killed in helicopter crash after clipping electrical pylon

A newly-engaged pilot was killed in a helicopter crash in South Africa just four months after his proposal.

Stewart Graham, died in the tragic accident while working as a helicopter pilot, which was a role he had described as "living the dream", EdinburghLive reports.

The 25-year-old was employed to spray pesticides onto crops from above but was killed while working on Koos Moller's pear orchards in the town of Wolseley, on January 19.

A full four-month investigation has now concluded into the heartbreaking accident, which was recorded to have taken place at around 6am.

After starting the flight at 4am, Stewart had refuelled nearly two hours later when the helicopter came crashing down from the air, killing Stewart instantly.

His Bell Jet Ranger, loaded with 295 kilogrammes of pesticide and a spraying rig underneath the helicopter, was reported to have clipped the earth cable of an electricity pylon and plummeted nose-first into the ground after breaking apart in midair.

Following the investigation published on June 4, the Civil Aviation Authority said there were no signs of a mechanical failure in the moments leading up to the crash while the weather conditions were very good.

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The report added: "It is possible that at the time of collision with the earth conductor, the helicopter might have been in a nose-down attitude.

"This might have prompted the pilot to attempt an evasive manoeuvre which may have resulted in one of the main rotor blades severing the left-front and midsection of the helicopter, as well as the tail boom section.

"The distribution of the wreckage is indicative of an in-flight break-up, which resulted in the helicopter's debris being scattered at a diameter of about 80 metres around the main wreckage."

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

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

He had also become engaged four months prior to his death and called it a "privilege to live and fly in such a beautiful country".

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