Night Helicopter Rescue in the Magaliesberg Mountains

At approximately 15:00 on Sunday 25 May 2014 a 28 year old male was seriously injured in an accident in the Magaliesberg Mountains and had to be rescued by an Air Force Helicopter.

The man was rescued in a challenging night helicopter rescue performed by a joint team from the South African Air Force 17 Squadron with an Oryx helicopter and the Mountain Club of South Africa Search and Rescue.

helicopter rescue Swartkops Air Force Base

Oryx starting up just before dusk at the Swartkops Air Force Base


The man was part of a group of friends enjoying the weekend at the Castle Gorge pools and waterfalls near Hekpoort before the approaching winter made the swimming too cold.  He jumped into the pool from some rocks, several metres above the pool when something went wrong in his jump and he landed badly in the water.  His friends immediately realised he was in trouble and helped him out of the pool and found that their friend sustained serious injuries and that he was also in severe pain and needed immediate medical attention.  The relative remote location and surrounding hills meant that there was no cellular reception and his friends had to walk some distance to call for the Mountain Club of South Africa which in turn requested the assistance of the South African Air Force.

By the time the helicopter from the Swartkops Air Force Base in Pretoria arrived on scene approx. 18:00) darkness was setting in and there was very little moonlight to help them.  The Helicopter Crew had to use their night vision goggles to extract the man, who was placed in a stretcher, out of the dark gorge as his injuries did not allow for him to be hauled out of the gorge using ropes which would have taken much longer.  In addition, the helicopter that was available was not equipped with a hoist hook and the rescue team had to revert to a back-up procedure, developed precisely for such eventualities.  The procedure, known as a “short-haul”, uses a rope attached to the helicopter to extract a stretchered patient on the other end with the helicopter afterwards landing close by to transfer him from the rope into the helicopter and the flying to hospital.

Paramedic stretcher resuce hoist

Paramedic ready to get hoisted with the man and stretcher during the night rescue.


The man was flown to and admitted to the Netcare Millpark Hospital at 20:30.

Victor Rundle, the Rescue Organiser from the Mountain Club of SA Search and Rescue who managed the rescue remarked that the Helicopter crew did exceedingly well to execute a challenging helicopter rescue went and remarked that whereas the only face of the air force that many members of the public see is their public displays at air shows and the weekend s presidential inauguration but behind the scenes the South African Air Force serves the South African Public in many less visible ways.

jumping point at the Castle Gorge pool, Magaliesberg

The usual jumping point at the pool – it is believed that the injured man jumped from the opposite and higher side of the kloof.


Victor also reminded adrenalin junkies about the risks of performing very high jumps into water.  The force that is generated with a very high jump leaves very little margin for error when your body position during the entry into the water is not perfect.  We do not know exactly what went wrong this time but it is believed that the jumper jumped from the opposite side of the kloof where jumpers usually jump into the pool (on the true right, i.e. the opposite side of where the the person in the photo below is and at a point higher than the person).  It is understood that he did not strike the rocks. 

The positive side of the story is that his friends knew the right numbers to call for help.


Related articles:

Search and Rescue telephone numbers

Rescue in the Magaliesberg Mountains



2 Responses to Night Helicopter Rescue in the Magaliesberg Mountains

  1. Neil May 27, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    Great work guys.

    For interest, there is a DWS route which climbs the true right of the pool, in line where this guy jumped. However it finishes about the same height as point G and traverses right off to above the waterfall. This was open by Stefan Isebeck in about 1984 and grade 23.


  2. Neil May 27, 2014 at 4:47 pm #


    Sorry was not Stefan, somebody else. I asked him. 🙂

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