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50 Year Anniversary

Celebrating 50 years of service to the community


(L-R: 15 Squadron, 87 Helicopter Flying School, SAAF, 16 Squadron, 19 Squadron)

On Friday, 4 January 1963 a South African Air Force Alouette helicopter was dispatched from Pretoria to assist in the search for a missing hiker, Kenneth Saffer, in the southern Drakensberg. The operation was to redefine, for the foreseeable future, the way the injured and the lost were located and then returned to safety from the Drakensberg. It was also the start of a long and illustrious involvement of the SAAF in mountain rescue that has continued to the present day.  Sadly this operation had a tragic ending. Hampered by mist and rain the South African Air Force team led by pilot, Major RV Lamb and the rescue team of the Mountain Club of South Africa KZN Section under Dr Sherman Ripley located and retrieved Kenneth’s body from the slopes of Rhino peak.


Today, 50 years on from this historic helicopter rescue in the Drakensberg, the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) acknowledge the humanitarian role played by the SAAF through its pilots and aircrew, whilst also honouring the commitment and leadership of its own rescue team members and the roles played by members of the Emergency Medical Rescue Service (EMRS) and staff of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW).

To mark the Golden Jubilee of KZN’s first Drakensberg helicopter rescue the MCSA held a banquet in the Classic Room, Greyville Race Course in Durban on 17th August 2013.

Sadly Major Lamb has passed on but remarkably all the MCSA rescue team members who took part in that original operation attended as honoured guests at the banquet.

Furthermore the VIP guest list included dignitaries from organizations that today make up the Search and Rescue process.

The organising committee is delighted to announce that the event was made possible by generous sponsorship by Absa, member of Barclays. Stephen van Coller, CE of Corporate and Investment Banking at Absa writes: "The Corporate and Investment Banking division of Absa, member of Barclays, believes in playing a broader role in the communities in which we live and work, beyond what we deliver through our core business activities. We are therefore a proud supporter of the Mountain Club of South Africa KwaZulu-Natal Section’s golden anniversary celebrations together with the South African Air Force."

Contact Details:
Enquiries  to mcsa.saaf.golden.anniversary@gmail.com
Or Allison Gans on 031 709 3963 or 082 900 3944.


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