Paragliding pilot swoops down on fleeing criminal in Cape Town, South Africa
Alert paragliding pilot Handré Fouché heard a “very loud scream” and turned back to investigate…
An alert paragliding pilot not only witnessed a crime from the air, but his quick response has led to the arrest of a suspect on Signal Hill in Cape Town, South Africa.
The pilot, Handré Fouché who owns Sky Safari Paragliding, told SAPeople he was doing a tandem paraglide flight yesterday afternoon with a client, flying from Signal Hill mountain to the landing area at the Seapoint Promenade, when, just above Seapoint neighbourhood, he “heard a very loud scream“.
Handré, who has been paragliding since 2008, says:
“I knew someone was in trouble. I turned around and flew back to Signal Hill mountain to see if I could see where the screaming was coming from. I searched below the tree line and on the mountain paths and noticed two people, a couple on the path, and a man running fast away from them.
“From what I saw it seemed like they were possibly mugged or attacked by the man who was running away.”
Handré (who some people are calling ‘Superman’) considered landing on the mountain but ultimately went for the safer landing option; and flew over Seapoint to the promenade.
“After landing I called first the police station in Seapoint, then the Seapoint neighbourhood watch. I called the police station 5 minutes later again and they said they had already sent a unit out.”
Another pilot called SANParks to inform them of the incident, and it’s believed that SANParks are planning to remove people who are staying in the National Park, but this has not yet been confirmed. Several locals on a Facebook community page said there has been an increase in the number of people living in the mountains, mainly in small tents.
Handré read a report after the incident, that SAPS (South African National Police Service) has found the suspect. Green Point Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Peter Flentov confirmed in a Facebook post that “a man matching the description he provided was apprehended and taken to SAPS Sea Point.”
Sadly crime has been on the rise in the mountains, says Handré. “There have been a couple of incidents in the hiking trails of Signal Hill and Lions Head.”
Paragliding eyes in the sky
Cape Town-based Handré has been a paragliding instructor for six years. “I love sharing flights with locals and tourists,” he says. “It is a great activity that anyone can experience in a safe way while flying with an instructor. We are passionate about sharing this sport with people, as well as being a part of the Seapoint community. We care for the nature and surroundings and always keep an eye open for anything suspicious happening on Signal Hill.
“While flying we keep an eye on the hikers, we notice when there is a suspicious person on the trails or at the Signal Hill viewpoint. Our service as pilots working on Signal Hill is not just paragliding, but also to assist the community and tourists who visit the site in any way we can.”
According to Handré, all the schools that operate on Signal Hill are legal schools, registered with the SACAA and with a registered DTO (declared training organization).
When he’s not spotting criminals, Handré says: “The views of the city from a paraglider are amazing, we offer people who want to experience paragliding a unique opportunity to view Cape Town from the sky. All tandem flights are done with the intention to teach our clients more about the sport of paragliding. During flights we explain many concepts about paragliding. On an instructional tandem paraglide flight students learn how a paraglider takes off, lands, how lift is created, different types of lift, equipment and how to use it, safety, steering and controlling a paraglider and how to plan the flight path and landing approach.”
The instructors working on Signal Hill and Lions Head are all experienced pilots, most of whom have been flying for at least 10 years. “All of us have logged thousands of flights,” says Handré.
Paragliding is a fast growing sport worldwide, although in South Africa it is growing at a slightly slower pace. However Cape Town has an active and passionate paragliding community who are all part of the Glen Paragliding Club.
“We have roughly 600 paraglider pilots in South Africa. An instructional tandem paraglide flight can give a student more insight into the sport and give them an idea if paragliding is a sport they would like to learn to do on their own,” says Handré.
If you’re interested: A paragliding license takes about 2 weeks to complete. During a course a student will do a minimum of 35 flights and 4 hours of flying time. After completing all the practical requirements and writing a theory test they are awarded with a basic paragliding license. The South African basic license, the IPPI 4 license, is recognised worldwide and will allow a pilot to travel and fly in mountains across the planet.
For more info, contact:
Handré Fouché (CFI Chief Flight Instructor for Sky Safari) at Sky Safari Paragliding