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SA paraplegic pilot Mike Lomberg dies in plane crash in Thailand

31 December 2018 - 11:37 By Nico Gous

A South African paraplegic pilot has died in a plane crash in Thailand.

“Dear friends, we have the sadness to inform you of the death of our friend Mike Lomberg following the accident that occurred shortly before landing at Bang Phra Airport in Thailand. This tragic accident is now inexplicable. The investigation is in progress,” Handiflight Around the World said on its Facebook page on December 30 2018.

Chers amis, nous avons la tristesse de vous informer du décès de notre ami Mike Lomberg suite à l'accident survenu peu...

Posted by Handiflight around the world on Sunday, 30 December 2018

According to The Bangkok Post, police and rescuers found the plane engulfed in flames. They suspect it hit nearby power lines when it came in to land.

Lomberg, 60, joined Handiflight, a Switzerland-based non-profit and disability rights-advocacy group, after he was disabled in a car crash 28 years ago. The trip was part of a round-the-world adventure which began on November 18 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland. It was expected to end in September 2019.

The Hindu reported that Lomberg was a former South African Air Force pilot and test pilot who became disabled after damaging his spinal cord in the car crash.

Lomberg said on his Facebook page on December 28 2018 that it was his first trip to Thailand. Those involved in the trip were flying from Chittagong, Bangladesh, to Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand.

“Just thinking about it, in the context of my own life was surreal. A guy from Cape Town, a wheelchair user after being injured in a motor accident 28 years ago, flying again, and now flying around the world as part of a team aiming to change perceptions about disability and hopefully inspire others, disabled or not, to take on new challenges and expand their own horizons. Today flying from Bangladesh across Myanmar and into Thailand. This was no ordinary day.”

The crash comes just days after a South African paramedic, Mark Roxburgh, died in a helicopter crash in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Roxburgh was among four people who died when a helicopter spun out of control and crashed. According to reports, the search-and-rescue chopper may have crashed after clipping the world’s longest zipline in Ras Al Khaimah on December 29 2018.

Video footage showed the helicopter tumbling through the air before crashing and exploding.