Brit fiance killed in chopper crash four months after proposing to girlfriend while ‘living the dream’ in South Africa

A Scottish pilot has tragically died after his helicopter clipped a electricity pylon while spraying crops in South Africa.

Helicopter pilot Stewart Graham had been "living the dream" in his new adopted country and preparing to marry his girlfriend when tragedy struck.


His fiancee has not been named in local reports.

The 25-year-old from Edinburgh was killed in the early hours ofJanuary 19 while spraying pesticide on Koos Moller's pear orchards in the town of Wolseley, South Africa.

His Bell Jet Ranger helicopter, loaded with 295 kilograms of pesticide, reportedly clipped the earth cable of an electricity pylon and plummeted nose-first into the ground after breaking apart in midair.

The Scottish pilot was killed instantly.

A four-month investigation concluded there were no signs of a mechanical failure in the moments leading up to the crash or poor weather conditions.

A report by South Africa's Civil Aviation Authority read: "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.”

Graham was in the air from 4am and landed briefly at 5.40am to refuel and load more pesticides.

Ten minutes later, Moller heard a loud popping sounds followed by a few seconds of silence and then a loud crash.

Moller rushed over to the wreckage where he found Graham's body.

The helicopter was found roof-down and billowing in smoke.


"The farm owner observed that the earth conductor of the high-tension power cable was missing, which led to the power outage in the neighbouring town (Ceres)," the report noted.

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 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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