D. Ramsuran, 17 Squadron
newly qualified co-pilot on the Oryx helicopter and now
stationed at 17 Sqn, I had the opportunity to deploy to the
Drakensberg Mountains near Winterton. Although this was not
my first time on a trip to the mountains for training, this
trip was from an operational squadron. At 87 HFS we were
introduced to mountain flying and covered most of the
procedural side, but this trip with 17Sqn was an eye-opener
as we practiced real-life scenarios. Some of the exercises
that we went through were:
Live hoisting of SA Mountain Club members and medics onto
mountains at around 10500’AMSL.
Cargo slinging at 10000’AMSL.
Pinnacle landings, some at 11000’AMSL.
Valley flying and confined area landings.
We also had a simulated aircraft crash, and it was wonderful
to see how efficient and how quick the rescuers reacted and
actually got to the ‘downed aircraft’.
We were quite lucky on the second last day of the deployment
when snow fell on the mountains. It was just amazing to see
the mountains covered white.
In the aviation line it is extremely important to maintain
currencies and get as much training in as possible, and on
this deployment I learnt quite a bit on how an operational
squadron handles different scenarios; not to mention that
the scenery and environment was like out of a post card.