Working on Fire helicopter pilot killed
08 March 2015
It is with great sadness that we must announce that one of the Working on Fire helicopter pilots, Mr Hendrik Willem Marais, was killed whilst attempting to make a forced landing.
The helicopter was part of a team of three helicopters and a spotter plane on their way to fight a fire in the Cape Point Nature Reserve.
I wish to express the Government’s and my personal condolences to the pilot’s wife, Mrs Jackie Marais, family, friends and his colleagues in the Working on Fire programme.
We have all become starkly aware of the tremendous dedication and skills these pilots display in the fires that ravaged the Cape Peninsula over the past week. Were it not for their and their fire-fighter counterparts on the ground, Cape Town would have experienced far greater damage and losses of property, and risks to lives.
Mr Marais was one of the pilots lauded for the exceptional work over the past week, when over 2,000 “drops” were made (each of about 1,100 litres) on the fire that started near Muizenberg, and spread to Noordhoek, Hout Bay, Tokai and Constantia.
The cause of the accident is being investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority, and further details will be made known, once available.
As a nation, we salute the bravery and service of these dedicated fire-fighters, and mourn the loss of Mr Marais in the course of duty.
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