Pilot killed as firefighting chopper crashes
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Cape Town- A helicoper pilot was killed after he crash landed while water-bombing a fire at Cape Point on Sunday, Working on Fire (WoF) spokesperson Evelyn Holtzhausen said.
"A WoF helicopter pilot, Hendrik Willem 'Bees' Marais was killed when his Huey was in a forced landing while on wild fire suppression duty in the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park [Cape Point] at about 11.30 am," Holtzhausen said on Sunday.
"The incident happened near Olifantsbos on the Western side of the reserve."
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said on Sunday: " I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the legendary pilot, Willem 'Bees' Marais who died in a helicopter crash whilst providing aerial combatting against the fire at Olifantsbos in the Cape Point Nature Reserve this afternoon.
"It is with great sadness that I extend my condolences to his family, friends and the public safety community," De Lillle said. "The public safety and aviation fraternity has lost a great pilot. We salute him and pay tribute to him for the contribution that he made in saving lives and protecting property."
Marais was a skilled pilot who had also worked at the South African Air Force (SAAF), South African Police Services (SAPS) and South African Red Cross Air Mercy Service (SAMS).
The Chaplains Alert Western Cape, a volunteer organisation, attached to the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre was providing counselling, trauma support and bereavement to his colleagues following the aircraft crash, De Lille added.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille tweeted: "Huey helicopter doing a fire recce and control came down near Cape Point. Tragically pilot killed. #CapeFire"
The cause of the crash is being probed by the Civil Aviation Authority, Holtzhauzen said.
Many riders in Sunday's 38th edition of the world famous Cape Town Cycle Tour had donned red riding gear in tribute to the firefighters who had been battling the devastating fires which ravaged large parts of the city's South Peninsula this past week.