SA chopper pilot involved in many rescue missions

2015-04-10 14:46
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

Johannesburg - The South African pilot who died when his helicopter crashed in Zambia was actively involved in rescue operations in his home country, his friends said on Friday.

Netcare911 spokesperson Chris Botha said he worked with Captain Mike O'Donnell, 41, when he started at the SA Police Service.

"I flew many rescue missions with him where we had to extract patients from difficult situations.

"Everything about him was always about safety," Botha said.

"We did a lot of training sessions together. When you knew he was flying he was like a rock.

"He was a phenomenal pilot and a friend."

Frans Haasbroek, himself a former police pilot, said O'Donnell had been close friend of his for 20 years.

"He flew in the SANDF [SA National Defence Force]... he was an extremely dedicated policeman and excellent pilot," Haasbroek told News24.

"He chalked up a huge amount of flying hours, risking his own life for others doing rescues across the province of KZN.

"It is an extremely sad day for all of us who knew him and it is certainly a loss to the police force and the aviation fraternity at large.

"It is also a massive knock to his friends and family."

Haasbroek said O'Donnell was flying the six-seater Eurocopter B3 Squirrel from Angola to Zambia on Thursday when it crashed.

The cause of the crash was not immediately apparent, however it was rumoured that the helicopter had a tail rotor failure.

Department of international relations spokesperson Clayson Monyela could not confirm the incident.

"I am still waiting for information on it," he said on Friday afternoon.

Zambian media initially reported that the crash involved a fixed-wing aircraft.

Read more on:    zambia  |  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.
NEXT ON NEWS24X 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

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.