ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 17712
Last updated: 18 November 2021
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Type:Silhouette image of generic B06 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Bell 206B-3 JetRanger III
Owner/operator:Makeean Polymers CC / Ian Macfarlane
Registration: ZS-REB
MSN: 4299
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Diepwalle Forest, Knysna, Western Cape -   South Africa
Phase: En route
Departure airport:FAPE (Port Elizabeth)
Destination airport:Hildesheim Guest House near Hoekwil in the Wilderness area.
Investigating agency: CAA SouthAfrica
On the morning of 5 March 1999, the pilot accompanied by his wife and his father departed on a private flight from Wonderboom Airport (near Pretoria) to Port Alfred. En route they landed at Tempe Aerodrome near Bloemfontein as well as East London Aerodrome, where fuel was uplifted. On the afternoon of 6 March 1999 they departed Port Alfred and they flew to Port Elizabeth Aerodrome (FAPE) where they landed and the helicopter was refuelled to capacity, with 149 litres of Jet A1 being uplifted.

Shortly thereafter, they departed FAPE en route to the Hildesheim Guest House near Hoekwil in the Wilderness area.
The flight was conducted under visual flight rules (VFR) and no Flight Plan was filed. The pilot was the holder of a valid private pilot's license with a night rating. The helicopter was approved for five place seating and was certified for land operations under day or night VFR (Visual Flight Rules) non-icing conditions.

Apart from standard navigational equipment there were two Global Positioning Systems (GPS's) units onboard of which one had a moving map display. The helicopter was not equipped with an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT).

It became evident that the helicopter was missing when the person intending to meet the pilot and his passengers at Cape Town International Airport on 7 March 1999 phoned one of the pilot's sons to inquire if they were going to be late, as they haven't arrived at Cape Town yet. After phoning the guesthouse in an attempt to find out what time they had departed from the Wilderness area, they were informed that they had never arrived at the guesthouse on the afternoon of 6 March 1999.

The ARCC (Aviation Rescue Co-ordination Centre) at Johannesburg was alerted by the family on Sunday, 7 March 1999 at 1645Z. After the information was evaluated and the Department of Transport was informed, a DETRESFA (Distress phase) was declared at 1904Z. An extensive aerial, ground and sea search was initiated with the official search being terminated on 15 March 1999, after the search was futile. Family members continued with a private search in the area until 13 April 1999. The wreckage of the missing helicopter was located on 21 April 2006 by a forest worker who was preparing cut lines for the harvesting of indigenous trees, an event that is only repeated once every ten years. The three occupants that were onboard the helicopter sustained fatal injuries. With the new evidence that became available, following the discovery of the wreckage the investigation into the accident was reopened.

Probable Cause:
It would appear that the pilot attempted to remain visual with reference to the ground (VFR) underneath cloud, and in doing so had to descend and was most probably left with no other option but to penetrate obscured weather conditions,and in doing so collided with terrain/trees.


1. SACAA Report
2. Chopper found 7 yrs after crash
3. Visit to crash site ends sonsu2019 anguish
4. 'No truth' in jewellery stash at crash site
5. ]CAA finishes on-site investigation of Knysna wreck
6. Tributes to couple who died in chopper crash
7. Closure for family after visiting crash site
8. Chopper crash victims buried in forest

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

Revision history:

08-May-2008 01:32 Topaz Added
02-Nov-2008 00:53 Topaz Updated
10-Sep-2014 10:48 harro Updated [Narrative]
10-Apr-2015 16:25 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
11-Oct-2021 19:12 harro Updated [Date]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description