Overturned truck on the N10

I had only just refueled AEROMED2 from the previous flight to Van Staden’s River Bridge, had a quick breakfast at the airport terminal, when a second call came in for a taxi accident on the N10 towards Cookhouse. It was a quick dash back to the base with my toast still in my hand!

I was airborne within ten minutes of the call coming in, collected the crew at Metro base, then headed for the Oilifantskop Pass, the start of the N10. We followed the N10 towards Cookhouse still we came across the overturned truck.

Landing on or near roads has it’s own set of hazards like wires so a quick inspection of the area of was done prior to landing into wind. I chose to land in the field adjacent to the accident allowing road traffic to continue to use the N10.

Both the driver and the passenger were ok, the driver sustaining the worst of the injuries as the truck overturned onto it’s left side. The driver would have fallen on top of the passenger.

We flew the driver to Port Elizabeth’s Greenacre’s Hospital.

Bell Longranger 206L4, Fuel used – 186Ltrs, Flying time (base to base) – 1,4 hours.

IMG_4487 IMG_4485


Taxi accident at Van Staden’s River Bridge

I got an early call at 6am on the Sunday morning for a taxi accident at the notorious Van Staden’s River Bridge, west of Port Elizabeth on the N2.

I was airborne at 6:22am and collected one crew on route, arriving on scene at 6:36am.

The taxi driver had dozed off causing the taxi to veer off the N2 and become wedged between the armco barrier and the steep bank.

Five adults and one child were killed instantly. In total ten were transferred by road ambulance and one was air lifted to Livingstone Hospital.

The Van Staden’s River Bridge is notorious for suicide jumpers and has recently had a 2.7m high barrier fitted to prevent people jumping over the edge. It’s ironic that even with these changes, 6 people loose the lives so close to the bridge for other reasons.


Bell Longranger 206L4, Fuel used – 100Ltrs, Flying time (base to base) – 0.6 hours.

IMG_4483 IMG_4482

Rescue at Groendal Nature Reserve

On Monday at 06H45, I was called by Port Elizabeth Mountain Rescue regarding two injured hikers who were stranded in the Groendal Nature Reserve.

The group of five hikers had become lost on Sunday afternoon and selected the incorrect path to descend towards the starting point of their hike, Groendal Information Center. Whilst trying to descend, two of the lady hikers injured themselves. One had an injured ankle and the other an injured knee. Both were unable to walk any further.

Mountain rescue had hiked to the group of hikers the previous evening, and had made sure that they were safe and warm. Mountain rescue stayed with the group sleeping under the stars with little shelter other than a few branches bunched together to form a small wind break.

I got airborne at 07H30 arriving on scene at 07H48. I had been given accurate GPS Co-ordinates by Mountain Rescue, allowing us to locate them immediately.

Both hikers injuries were stabilized before airlifting to Cuyler Netcare Clinic in Uitenhage. The more serious of the two hikers was airlifted first, followed by the second hiker. Total flying time from scene to Cuyler Clinic was 5 minutes!

Mountain Rescue and the remaining three hikers faced a 4 to 5 hour hike back to the Groendal Information Center.

Bell Longranger 206L4, Fuel used – 125Ltrs, Flying time (base to base) – 1,3 hours.

IMG_3278AEROMED2 at Groendal

Paragliding accident at Nieu Bethesda

At 15H00 on the 27th January 2013, I got a call from a work colleague, telling me that a friend of hers had crashed his para-glider whilst paragliding in the Noordhoekberge, 17km north east of Graaf Reinet.

The paraglider pilot and two fellow para-gliders had taken off from Valley of Desolation, Graaf Reinet gliding about 30km north east towards Nieu Bethesda. The injured para-glider pilot later told me that he got blown up the valley and over the top of that hill into the lip-rotor. He said the glider just stopped flying and he could see the ground coming up very fast.

I was airborne at 15H19 and arrived on scene at 16H30. The para-glider pilot had been talking to his wife on his cell phone, and fortunately had sent the GPS co-ords where he was lying on top of the mountain. An initial search yielded nothing, so I landed on the Nieu Bethesda Road to ask his flying friend where to search for the accident site. A second search, and we found the accident site.

The terrain was very rocky, so I had to choose a landing site carefully to avoid landing on top of rocks hidden in the long grass. We also could not risk landing too close to the para-glider for fear of the sail ending up in the rotor blades. The accident site was at 5200ft, and with a strong variable wind, made for a tricky landing.

The victim was unable to move. X-rays back at St.Georges hospital later showed a ruptured liver, fractured ribs and pelvis. He was given painkillers via injection and placed on a drip. We carefully rolled him over onto the scoop ready for loading into the helicopter.

I first flew the victims para-glider back down to the main road where his friends were waiting. After returning to the mountain top accident site, we loaded the patient – he was heavy, which made moving him on a stretcher, very difficult in the rocky terrain.

After a quick refuel at Graaf Reinet airport, we routed direct for St. Georges Hospital, landing at 19:42.

The following morning, I was phoned by his wife thanking me for all we had done to airlift her husband off the mountain. Without the crew working alongside me, I would not have been able to do my job in a professional manner, so a big thank you to the Metro EMS crew that were with me. Also a big thank you to Roeland at Graaf Reinet Airfield for being on standby with fuel, much appreciated!

Update on 5/02/2013, the paraglider pilot has been released from hospital and is making a speedy recovery!

Bell Longranger 206L4, Fuel used – 502Ltrs, Flying time (base to base) – 3.4 hours.


Google earth

Truck carrying sand, overturned in Olifantskop Pass

I got the call at 14:05 for a report of a truck that was overturned in the Oilfantskop Pass, on the N10 between Patterson and Cookhouse.

We landed at 14:46 on a section of road with a strong camber, but close to the accident site. The driver of the truck was lying half in and half out the truck. He had no open wounds, but was complaining about his back.

The truck driver was moved onto the scoop, then loaded into the helicopter. The N10 road was secured at both ends allowing start up. We lifted at 15:14 from the accident site for St. Georges Hospital.

It appeared that the driver had lost control driving down the pass on his way to Cookhouse. The truck was carrying builder’s sand.

Bell Longranger 206L4, Fuel used – 173Ltrs, Flying time (base to base) – 1.5 hours.



Hiking accident at Peak Formosa

I got the call at 13:20 for a hiking accident at Peak Formosa, which lies between Louterwater and Stormsriver. This is the highest peak in the Tsitsikamma mountains, rising to 5495ft above sea level. A 73 year old man had fallen whilst hiking back down the peak with a group of 9 friends.

I routed initially for Joubertina, then was informed by the Metro control room to continue to Louterwater, where we would meet an ambulance that would guide us to the accident site. A local doctor at Louterwater stopped and provided directions for us to the accident site. We landed at the dam at the base of the peak at 14:43.

The Red Cross AMS Agusta 119 Koala from Oudsthoorn had arrived on scene 5 minutes before us, and was busy searching the cliff base for signs of the elderly hiker. They found the remains of the body at the base of a deep gorge. The man had fallen 300 meters to his death. Rescue medics were dropped into the gorge to collect the remains of the body. The Red Cross AMS Helicopter landed back at the dam whilst the rescue medics were busy in the gorge. Once the body remains had been recovered, the Red Cross AMS Helicopter returned to the accident scene to hoist the crew and body out.

The 73 year old man had been part of a group of nine hikers. The party had split close to the top, as the knife edge section was too difficult for some of the group. The victim was part of the group of four that had continued to the top and were on their way back down the knife edge when the victim fell to his death. He was helping another member of the group get their footing, when he lost his own footing. I can’t imagine the trauma of seeing your friend fall to his death!

We decided to return to base as there was nothing we could do with the victim being confirmed dead on scene. A big thanks to the Red Cross pilot for recovering the body in the gorge at the base of a formidable 300 meter cliff face.

Bell Longranger 206L4, Fuel used 323Ltrs, flying time (base to base) – 2.4 hours.

ZS-RFS at Peak Formosa

Peak Formosa


6 Rugby players drown at Blue Water Bay

At 12:10 on Sunday the 25th March, I got a call that there was a multiple drowning in progress at Blue Water Bay.

I was airborne at 12:30 for Blue Water Bay, and landed at the car park on scene at 12:42. I did a low level survey of the incident scene to see if any bodies could be seen. There was no sight of the five missing bodies.

Blue Water Bay

Rugby Team members praying for team members missing

NEWS 24 report on drowning:


Truck and Car collide on Olifantskop Pass

A truck and car had collided on the Olifantskop Pass, on the N10 road from Patterson to Cookhouse.

I got the call at 15:42 and was airborne 15:48. I arrived on scene at 16:15 and landed about 500 meters from the accident scene on a suitable section of the mountain pass road.

The paramedics were transported with the South African police to the accident site.

We were airborne again at 17:06, airlifting one of the trapped victims to Greenacres/Netcare Private Hospital. Flight time for the transfer was 20 minutes.

Cessna 152 runs out of fuel

I got a call at 16:42 that a student pilot had run out of fuel and made an emergency landing near Swartkops River Mouth.

The young lady student pilot had got lost whilst on a solo cross country flight, and run out of fuel whilst being assisted by Port Elizabeth Air Traffic Control to get back to Port Elizabeth Airport.

I was airborne at 16:48 and collected both the paramedic and rescue medic at Livingstone Hospital base.

It took around 5 minutes to find the aircraft, which had landed on a sand bar about 2km inland of the Swartkops River Mouth, near Redhouse village.

The student pilot suffered no injuries which was remarkable considering that she came to a stop within about 20 meters of where she touched down. She only had approximately 30 hours of flying time. She made a near perfect engine-off landing in a difficult area, well done for the emergency landing!

The nose wheel dug into the soft sand, causing the aircraft to come to a sudden stop on it’s nose. The propeller was bent along with the twisted nose wheel.

As the landing site was difficult to access by road, I fetched a SA Police officer in the car park on the eastern side of the river. A statement was taken from the student pilot, and I dropped the police officer back at the car park.

With all aviation accidents, the pilot must not leave the scene of the accident until a police officer has taken a statement from the pilot.

I took the student pilot back to Port Elizabeth Airport and landed back at base at 19:06.

12 year old boy feared drowned at Pollock Beach

I got a call at 16:45 from a work colleague’s son who was at the scene of a drowning at Pollock Beach, Port Elizabeth. The NSRI were busy conducting a thorough search for the missing 12 year old boy.

I arranged authorization for the Search and Rescue flight from our East London headquarters, and was airborne at 17:12 to collect the rescue paramedics from the Metro base. We arrived on scene at Pollock beach at 17:18. An initial fly past of the area was completed before landing at the NSRI base at 17:30. I got a more accurate description from the NSRI as to where the 12 year old boy had gone missing. I conducted another search, this time lower and in the area that the boy had gone missing. The rough waters and poor visibility into the water made the search very difficult.

The second search revealed nothing, and the boy is presumed drowned.

A UITENHAGE man’s desperate attempts to save his 12-year- old nephew from drowning in rough surf at Pollok Beach ended tragically yesterday.
Kowan Maart, who had been playing in the shallows, was pulled underwater by the strong current and washed out to sea as his uncle, who tried frantically several times to grab hold of him, was knocked over repeatedly by the waves.
Kowan is missing presumed drowned.
Coastal rescue experts attributed the recent surge in drownings to the rough and choppy sea conditions combined with strong rip currents and wind.
Kowan was playing in the shallows, less than 5m from his uncle, Gurson McCarthy, when the tragedy occurred.
A distraught McCarthy, 29, described his nephew’s drowning yesterday as “life-shattering”.
“I was standing in the water about 5m from him when he just went under,” McCarthy said soon after the tragedy. He was still shaking from shock.
“I tried so hard to get to him, but the waves were just too big and kept on knocking me back.
“The lifeguards saw that we were in trouble and ran into the water to assist, but Kowan was already under the water.”
The lifeguards swam around searching for Kowan for hours after he disappeared but strong currents and rough seas hampered the search.
“I am totally shattered,” McCarthy said, fighting to hold back the tears. “I tried to save him but just could not get there. It is going to haunt me.”
East Cape Coastal Rescue spokesman John Fletcher said his team, together with Summerstrand lifesavers and the National Sea Rescue Institute, launched a full-scale search for Kowan but had to call off the search two hours later, at 4pm, due to the rough sea conditions and strong currents.
“The police dive rescue unit will launch a search at 6am [today],” he said.