Emotional farewell

2014-08-01 00:00

BLACK helicopters painted the background outside the Starlite Aviation hangar, Virginia Airport, yesterday as family, friends and colleagues remembered slain helicopter pilot Cameron Dalziel.

It is now two weeks since Dalziel (43) died when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine on July 17.

The service was led by the Venerable Martin Tifflin of St Michael’s Anglican Church Umhlanga, the church attended by Dalziel before he and his family moved to Malaysia, as well as his parents Meryl and Doug, sister Candice and brother Campbell.

While Dalziel’s widow Reine cradled their youngest son Cruz (four) in her arms, elder son Sheldon (14) presented an audio-visual memorial to his father.

The tribute portrayed a close-knit family with a taste for the big outdoors as one image followed another showing Dalziel either alone or with family and friends in beach and mountain settings. “Life is an adventure,” read a caption. “You must embrace it.”

“A true family man with a zest for life,” was how Robbie Swaisland of Starlite Aviation described Dalziel and recalled him starting out as a volunteer firefighter for the Umhlanga Protection Services to when he obtained his commercial pilot’s licence and became part of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami support effort.

Dalziel moved with his family to Malaysia last year to fly for CHC Helicopter and was returning from a fixed-wing plane training course in the Netherlands when MH17 was shot down.

“Cameron was the quintessential pilot,” said Greg Whyte, CHC vice president of system operations. “He was a tremendous people leader and was recently selected as one of the top 10 leaders from CHC … People who worked with him just wanted to follow him.”

Speaking after the service, Dalziel’s brother Campbell said the family was “going through the emotions — the mornings are very hard. Today is part of the healing process but the pain will be forever.”

The family are currently waiting for Dalziel’s remains to be identified. Last week DNA swabs were taken from Dalziel’s parents to aid in identifying his body and South African officials flew to the Netherlands with the swabs and Dalziel’s dental records.

Campbell Dalziel said people have asked why none of the family has been to Europe or Ukraine. “But for what? We want Cameron brought home. We just have to wait and pull together.”

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