David Klatzow is a South African forensic scientist who investigated the Helderberg air disaster of 1987.
South African Airways (SAA) Flight 295, named the “Helderberg,” was a commercial flight en route from Taiwan to South Africa on 28 November, 1987. The Boeing 747 Combi (meaning it carried both passengers and freight) experienced a catastrophic in-flight fire in the cargo area, leading to the crash in the Indian Ocean near Mauritius.
All 159 people on board were killed.
The investigation into the crash was fraught with difficulties.
The search for the wreckage took several months due to the depth of the ocean in the crash area. When the flight recorders were finally recovered, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was found to have stopped recording before the crash due to the failure of the plane’s electrical systems.
The investigation determined that a fire had started in the right rear main deck cargo hold, but the exact cause of the fire could not be definitively determined. The cargo on board included computers, electronic equipment, and a variety of other goods.
The final report stated that packaging in the cargo hold had not complied with international standards.
David argues that the aircraft had also been carrying illegal weapons or hazardous materials, given South Africa’s international isolation at the time due to its policy of apartheid.
He suggests that an “event” occurred, such as the aircraft possibly falling apart mid-air, hinting at a theory that the plane was shot down, either intentionally or accidentally.
Not only is this a major South African aviation catastrophe, it’s one of the most significant aviation catastrophes ever.