The Telegraph reports today that an inquest into a plane crash revealed that an escaped crocodile may have caused the tragedy on August 25, 2010. Pilot Danny Philemotte, co-pilot Chris Wilson and 18 passengers died in the crash. Only one passenger survived the crash. The survivor told investigators that another passenger had brought the crocodile on the flight inside a large sports bag. He said the crocodile escaped just before the plane was supposed to land.
The plane was preparing to land in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The plane was a Let L-410 aircraft which was at full capacity. According to airliners.net, the L410 is a Czech plane built to Soviet requirements. The original plane made its first flight in 1969. The original model had 15 seats. This model of plane has been successful and has sold around the world
The surviving passenger said the crocodile escaped and scared a flight attendant who ran towards the cockpit. In a panic, the passengers followed her. Although the exact cause of the crash could not be determined, investigators believe the immediate shift in weight sent the plane into a nosedive. The coroner mentioned that pilot error and an overloaded plane should also be considered.
The Mirror news says the plane had often been used as a taxi to transport animals. The crocodile also survived the crash, but was killed with a machete by a rescue worker. The inquest also discovered the pilot did not have extensive flying experience. The co-pilot had told a family member that he did not want to fly with Philemotte anymore. The co-pilot said Philemotte could not read the plane’s instruments, and he did not know how Philemotte was still alive. Wilson described Philemotte as a terrible pilot. After four years, authorities say they have more possibilities than probabilities.