Eye in the Sky

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KNP Spokesman
Posts: 291
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 8:18 am
Location: Skukuza

SANParks air wing

Unread post by KNP Spokesman »

Hi Forumites

I was actually looking for something totally different and stumbled on this thread, and thought I might add a different perspective to this discussion.

SANParks has quite a vibrant air wing with a number of aviation assets. First on the list are our two Eurocopter EC120 helicopters (as seen in this photograph). Traditionally we used Bell Jetrangers in this role but we have found the running costs of the two EC120s as being LESS than the single Jetranger we had before.

Incidentally, Hennie has told me that our helicopters are the most used EC120s in the world and Eurocopter often send representatives (from France, the country of origin) to come and inspect them, so far they are in excellent condition and have had very few incidents or breakdowns. They are simply lovely to fly (both as a pilot and as a passenger) and can land just about anywhere in Kruger without hassles. Fantastic machines!

Because they are so versatile, they are used extensively across the country and can be spotted anywhere were SANParks has an operation. Although they are permanently based here in Skukuza, they might be deployed to Table Mountain, Addo, Augrabies or any of the other parks. We try and keep at least one of them "on duty" here in Skukuza for incidents like this mentioned and they are used for just about anything from law enforcement to game capture.

Our pilots, Hennie, Grant and Mark, are also some of the best in the business and we are all very proud of them and their abilities. Hennie is the longest serving of the three, Grant was actually a conservation student in Kruger a few years ago and decided to change his career direction slightly and become a "conservation" pilot (very admirable I think) and Mark has done all sorts of charter, commercial and bush flying for most of his life.

Secondly, we have a twin engine Partenavia Observer which is mostly used for animal census operations. This is also based in Skukuza and is one of the few examples of this unusual aircraft in South Africa.

And lastly we have two Cessna high wing single engine aircraft, a C182 based in Skukuza and used as a light communication aircraft and sometimes for anti poaching patrols and a C206 which I have never seen as it is based in the Cape and is used for anti poaching operations in our coastal region parks.

Recently, the purchase of more aviation assets was approved but more about that later ...

Some of my more memorable experiences in the KNP was when I have accompanied our pilots on various operations.

Kind regards
KNP Spokesman
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Posts: 47950
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2004 5:54 pm
Location: The Beautiful Cape

Unread post by DinkyBird »


Snapped these pics in MZNP last year during a game capture excercise.
- Dalene