TABLE BAY Friday, 28th September, 2012. Search for helicopter crash a false alarm with good intentions:
At 20h34 NSRI Table Bay volunteers were called out following reports of a helicopter crashed in the vicinity of Bloubergstrand Beach front, in the region of the Seli 1 wreck.
According to Pat van Eyssen, NSRI Table Bay duty coxswain, NSRI Table Bay rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom was on the water at the time dealing with a sea rescue call involving 4 suspected stowaways on a tug boat which was heading up the West Coast of Africa and WC Government Health Emergency Medical Services (EMS) rescue paramedics and Immigration officers that accompanied the NSRI boat on the call had, after evaluating the 4 suspected stowaways, confirmed that they were all in good health and Immigration Officers denied the stowaways access to South African shores and the tug boat was instructed to continue her voyage North.
Our sea rescue boat was then diverted to respond to assist in the search for the suspected crashed helicopter because land rescue crews could find no trace of a helicopter crashed on the land side of Bloubergstrand.
NSRI Melkbosstrand was then also activated and they too launched sea rescue craft.
On arrival on-scene it was confirmed that WC Government Health EMS, Cape Town Fire and Rescue Services, Life Care response paramedics, SA Police Services and a Police Dive Unit and Blouberg Neighborhood Watch were on-scene where an eye-witness, a Pilot, claimed she had been driving in the vicinity of The Paddocks, near Racecourse road, when she witnessed what appeared to be a helicopter, with strobe lights flashing, go into a spiral, then fall from the sky and appeared to crash in the vicinity behind sand dunes between West Beach (near Milnerton Golf Course) and Blouberg strand Beach front (near the Seli 1 wreck).
A sea search by the NSRI revealed no sign of any helicopter crash. There is a possibility that it was a Giro-copter but other pilots that had come to the scene made phone calls to all private and public airports in the greater Cape Town area and there were no reports of any helicopter or Giro copters that were in the area at the time or overdue or missing.
It then came to light that an Airlink pilot had reported seeing what he believed to be a Meteorite fall across the Western part of the Western Cape. That pilot had just reached cruising altitude in an Airlink passenger plane after taking off from Durban’s airport heading towards Cape Town.
Cape Town International Airport then also reported other eye-witnesses claiming that they too had seen what they believed to be a Meteorite fall across the West Coast skyline at about the same time.
No further action was required and although it is assumed that what was seen was a Meteorite fall the situation continued to be monitored throughout the night and there remain no reports of any helicopter overdue or missing.
NSRI can confirm that similar sightings in the past have given the same impression.
The most recent was approximately a year ago where eye-witnesses claimed to have seen flares being fired from an airplane that crashed into the sea between Melkbosstrand and Saldanha Bay but an off duty Cape Town International Air Traffic Controller who had been driving on the Table Bay Boulevard at the time, after hearing of the reports through the media, had called the NSRI to confirm that what he had seen was without doubt a Meteorite falling across the Western Cape Coastline at the same time as the eye-witness accounts.
Pictures of Spirit of Vodacom attending to the stowaway call by Paula Leech/NSRI.