Down to the [deadly] wire
Suspended aeroplane rescue
Pilanesberg – The pilot and occupant of an aeroplane hanging suspended from a zipline 100 metres above the ground, were safely rescued in an adrenaline filled rescue operation!
The bizarre accident where the light aeroplane flew into a zipline (a thrill seeking ride where a long cable is suspended for more than a kilometre from point to point and thrill seekers slide down it- for fun) occurred on Friday 28 September.
Through sheer luck the plane became entangled in the zipline instead of immediately tearing apart and crashing to the ground. It hung suspended for hours before rescue workers were able to safely rescue the pilot, Pieter Gaddin and his wife Mary.
The Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC), which is based at the OR Tambo International Airport Aviation Training Academy, took charge of the incident and assembled a team from Johannesburg to fly to the scene and execute the rescue. Volunteer rescuers with cableway rescue experience from the Mountain Club of South Africa Search and Rescue (MSAR) were called in to assist in the rescue.
The rescue operation became more and more dangerous as the wind started picking up and the precariously suspended plane could tear loose at any moment.
According to MSAR, the occupants were secured in the plane by their seatbelts. A very brave rescuer, Rob Thomas, made his way along the cable to reach the aircraft.
The most critical part of the rescue was to carefully transfer the occupants from their seats to the rescue harness and the delicate prepositioning until they were hanging on the cable free from the aircraft fuselage. Pieter and Mary escaped with no major injuries.
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