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Tue, Jun 01, 2004

South African Ultralight Pilot Loses Life In China

Died On World Tour

Allen Honeyborne, a 34-year old ultralight pilot from South Africa, will be cremated in China this week, after his ultralight went down in a lake near Miluo. His partner, Ricky De Agrela, said on the mission's website that he's haunted by the accident.

"The wreckage of the microlight is in a large deep river with fast flowing silted water which makes it near impossible to find and verify what went wrong. I write, verify, because he called on the radio twice and said what was wrong. At the time we were at 11,000 feet. He said that he had lost his wing and was falling. Those messages have been haunting me."

Honeyborne and De Agrela were on a 50-nation tour in their ultralight Aerotrikes, modified with long-range fuel tanks, hardened landing gear and improved four-stroke engines.

The 18-month long "Freedom Flight" journey began last December, when the two men took off from Capetown, South Africa. They were marking the tenth anniversary of the end of apartheid in South Africa. They were also raising money for a Red Cross children's hospital in Capetown.

It was the expedition's second safety incident, after Honeyborne's trike abruptly lost altitude over Thailand. He eventually landed safely at a military airfield north of Bangkok.

Honeyborne's mother is headed for China this week to make arrangements for his cremation. "My husband and I cried uncontrollably this weekend when we saw Allan's body on a Chinese television program," Jocelyn Honeyborne told reporters. "It was lying on an open piece of grass after it was hauled out of a lake. I could clearly see the emblem of the South African flag on his helmet. There was a slight dent in the helmet. We're just thankful Allan wasn't mangled in the accident."

FMI: www.safreedomflight.com

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