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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 216580
Last updated: 15 February 2020
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Time:07:30 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic UH1 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Richards Heavylift Helo (Bell) UH-1H
Owner/operator:Working on Fire (WOF)
Registration: ZS-HLP
C/n / msn: 10484
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Vermaaklikheid, Southern Cape -   South Africa
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Fire fighting
Departure airport:
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
On 22 October 2018, a helicopter was dispatched for a fire-fighting operation at Vermaaklikheid in the Western Cape province of South Africa; the operation was successfully completed. On 23 October 2018, the same helicopter which was stationed at Still Bay located about 35 kilometres (km) east of Vermaaklikheid, was again dispatched (with a different pilot) to continue with the fire-fighting operation. The helicopter took off from Still Bay at approximately 0415Z and arrived at the fire site at about 0440Z. The helicopter landed on a dedicated landing zone where a Bambi Bucket was connected to the helicopter, and safety checks carried out. All systems were found to be in satisfactory condition. At approximately 0450Z, the helicopter took off to commence with the firefighting operation. It was reported that the pilot completed the first operation of the day, which took 1.1 hours, before he uplifted 578 litres of Jet A-1 fuel. He then carried out a pre-flight inspection before continuing with the fire-fighting operation.
Eyewitnesses stated that they saw the helicopter making a left turn towards north-west to fetch more water from the valley. Moments later, they heard a loud bang from the direction where they had last seen the helicopter. They then spotted the helicopter flying at approximately 50 metres (164ft) above ground level (AGL), shaking violently. One of the fire-fighting crew members who was stationed near the accident area attested to having heard a loud bang and seeing the helicopter with a Bambi Bucket above the main rotor and near the tail rotor, shaking violently. The helicopter began drifting towards the right and rolled twice before impacting the ground. It rolled further until it came to a stop next to the trees. A post-impact fire erupted. A few eyewitnesses ran towards the accident site to
render assistance. The pilot was found lying near the helicopter and the first responders moved him away from the burning helicopter. The pilot was fatally injured, and the helicopter was destroyed by impact forces and a post-impact fire.

The investigation revealed that during a left turn, the Bambi Bucket swung high after coming into contact with the tail rotor and, thus, struck by the main rotor. This caused the helicopter to vibrate (shake violently) before the pilot lost control and crashed.


1. Pilot killed in Garden Route chopper crash
2. Opvolg: Brand op Hessequa
3. Vermaaklikheid fire turns deadly as helicopter crashes nearby [pictures]
4. This is the 'hero pilot' who died while fighting the Garden Route blaze

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 12 months
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

23-Oct-2018 10:32 Topaz Added
23-Oct-2018 13:06 Iceman 29 Updated [Source, Narrative]
23-Oct-2018 13:07 Iceman 29 Updated [Embed code]
23-Oct-2018 17:09 harro Updated [Aircraft type, Narrative]
23-Oct-2018 23:56 Topaz Updated [Source, Narrative]
25-Oct-2018 11:20 Topaz Updated [Registration, Cn]
25-Oct-2018 13:11 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
19-Oct-2019 16:51 harro Updated [Time, Departure airport, Destination airport, Narrative, Accident report, ]

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