SAAF’s 19 Squadron in Swadini search and rescue operation


Two flight crews from the South African Air Force’s only helicopter squadron in Limpopo – 19 Squadron – were the go-to people following a light aircraft crash on 4 March.

Tasked to assist in possible aircraft accident, crew Lieutenant Colonel Steven Lownie, Captain Collin Rudman and WO1 Carel van Dalen took off in an Oryx helicopter. Airborne reconnaissance confirmed a downed Cessna C182. They returned to base to co-ordinate with Air Force Command Post for search and rescue (SAR) authorisation, and contact SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) at AFB Hoedspruit for medical personnel to accompany them. Once loaded with Drs Anri Winter and Kate van den Aarweg and ops medic staff sergeant Gerrie Botha, the helicopter routed directly to the crash site 15 nautical miles south-west of Hoedspruit base.

The Oryx touched down on top of a mountain above the crash site, dropped off the medical team and returned to the foot of the mountain to await instructions. Police arrived and were lifted to the mountain top where the lone occupant of aircraft was declared dead by doctors.

The medical team was extracted and a new crew (Major Henk Pietersen, Rudman on his second sortie and Sergeant Gerhard Bornman) were joined by Lieutenant Colonel Stefan King and Captain Tyrone Winter to provide assistance on ground.

Following a briefing the helicopter positioned in a high hover over the crash site to avoid any debris causing damage. The hoist was completed and the body safely flown to the foot of the mountain.