Two occupants of a light plane have been safely rescued after their aircraft hit a 2km long zipline cable near Sun City / Pilanesberg, in the North West province of South Africa.
‘Mountain Club of SA – Search And Rescue’ reported in a statement on social media today that the pair fortunately escaped major injuries since their plane got tangled in the cable and didn’t immediately plummet the 100m to the ground.
The incident occurred on Friday when the plane hit the zipline and its propeller assembly became attached to the cable, causing the plane to hang precariously in the air.
Local emergency units were quick to respond… but unfortunately couldn’t assist as the plane was suspended so high.
Mountain Club said:
The Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre (ARCC), which is based at the OR Tambo International Airport ATNS facility, took charge of the incident and assembled a team from Johannesburg to fly to the scene and execute the rescue of the occupants. Volunteer rescuers from the Mountain Club of South Africa Search and Rescue (MSAR) which had cableway rescue experience, as well as the necessary equipment (including several hundred meters of rope) were flown to the incident from Johannesburg via helicopters from the SAPS Air Wing and Menno Parsons, a private aircraft owner and pilot.
The Club said that after considering several rescue strategies, “the most feasible rescue plan involved a rescuer, attached to the cable, being guided down the zip line down to the aircraft. The rescuer’s position was controlled from the top station of the zip line via several long ropes which were had to be joined to cover the significant distance.
“As there was no possibility to inspect the situation close-up and plan the extraction of the aircraft’s occupants in detail prior to committing to the cable, several bags of equipment (including cables to secure the wreck) as well as more than two hundred meters of rope were taken along by a rescuer as backup.
“The most critical part of the rescue involved a careful and calculated transfer of the occupants from the aircraft seats (where they were secured in the interim via their seatbelts) to rescue harnesses and delicate repositioning until they were hanging on the cable, free from the aircraft fuselage.
“The rescuer and the pair were then raised up the cable and away from the aircraft by some fifty meters as quickly as possible before the rescuer lowered the pair to the sloping ground below, where after the rescuer assailed to the ground.
“The final stage of the rescue involved the pair being hoisted into the SAPS Air Wing helicopter, but the second hoist had to be abandoned because of extremely strong gusts of wind, resulting in rescuers walking the pilot down the mountain to awaiting paramedics for a brief medical assessment.”
The aircraft itself was also taken down later the same day.
The accident had occurred at 08h30 in the morning… and because of the wind, and the dangerous risks, the pilot and passenger’s ordeal only finished around six hours later!
Congratulations to the brave rescuers, and thank you to the organisations involved in the rescue including the ARCC, SAPS Air Wing Squirrel Helicopter, Menno Parsons with his Bell 407 helicopter, Sun City Fire Services, ER24, Netcare 911, the CAA, the Zipline operator and MSAR!
Read the full story and see more pics here: