Durban - Verulam crime fighter and pilot Prem Balram escaped with minor injuries after his helicopter crashed into a field in Verulam. His co-pilot is still in hospital.
Balram, who owns a private security company, Reaction Unit South Africa (RUSA), was en route to the Verulam Recreation Grounds to display his Robinson R44 Raven 2 helicopter at the Verulam Charity Fair.
The engine failed on the way at around midday on Friday, and Balram had to steer his helicopter to prevent a crash landing on houses.
Balram said the newly-fitted Lycoming engine lost power at 400 feet above ground. The aircraft then plummeted to the ground within 4 seconds of the engine going silent.
“I executed a successful autorotation, diverting the aircraft away from the busy grounds, homes, over dense bush and river and crash-landed in an open field. An autorotation is normally attempted from over 1 000 feet,” he said.
Both Balram and his co-pilot, Jerome Sumdath, crawl-ed out of the aircraft.
Sumdath suffered spinal injuries and was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at uMhlanga Hospital.
Balram injured his left hand, right shoulder and legs.
He said the crash was under investigation by the South African Civil Aviation Authorities. Attempts to reach a spokesman were unsuccessful.
“The helicopter is wrecked. We are looking for a replacement. Crime will escalate in the area without a helicopter.”
Spokeswoman for RUSA, Sunika Hobraj, extended gratitude to residents of Coniston, Verulam and emergency services who flocked to the scene and offered assistance.