SA pilot's death has hampered police rescue capability

2015-04-10 20:57
A picture of friends Mike O'Donnell, left, and Frans Haasbroek, right. (Supplied, Frans Haasbroek)

A picture of friends Mike O'Donnell, left, and Frans Haasbroek, right. (Supplied, Frans Haasbroek)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Durban - The death of SA Police Service helicopter pilot Mike O’Donnell has severely hampered the rescue capability of the police’s Air Wing in KwaZulu-Natal. 

O’Donnell was killed in a helicopter crash in Zambia, while ferrying a civilian chopper back to South Africa.

The veteran airman was the only police pilot certified to fly dangerous and technical rescue missions – and his death may have widespread ramifications.

Three well placed police sources, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, said that the airborne capability of police in the province was now non-existent.

The police Air Wing based south of Durban have four helicopters as their disposal.

Among them is a Robinson, which is understood to fulfil an observation and search role.

Other airframes, including a squirrel and BO105 are traditionally used for rescue missions that require technical flight and the use of hoists.

While a handful of pilots remain on duty at the unit, none are certified to fly two police helicopters that are used for dangerous rescue missions.

A source said: “With Mike gone the ability of the police to perform rescues has been reduced to zero. One of the pilots there is doing her conversation to fly the squirrel but she still needs to fly 100 hours under supervision. Even then, she and the others are not certified to fly rescue missions.”

This was corroborated by all of the sources contacted by News24. 

The KwaZulu-Natal SAPS could not be immediately reached for comment. 


Read more on:    police  |  durban  |  air crashes

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

How much food do you need to concentrate?

We have been taught that we need three meals a day in order to make it through the day and while most of us indulge in more than our fair share there is a large portion of South Africans who are living off barely enough to sustain them.


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.