New WoF Flying Crewmen ready to tackle the challenge
Five WOF participants recently graduated as helicopter flying crewmen.
Five former Working on Fire (WOF) crew leaders recently graduated, from helitack team members, to flying crewmen (FCs). They are now ready to help improve operational safety by offering much-needed assistance to aerial firefighting helicopter pilots.
This WOF Flying Crewmen training programme was implemented in 2014 to help mitigate risks during aerial firefighting operations, while also granting participants access to future careers in the aviation industry.
“We believe that the skills and experience firefighters gain while training to, first working as helitack crew members and later flying crewmen, will enable them to someday become either aviation engineers or even pilots,” Managing Director for Working on Fire, Trevor Abrahams, explains.
WOF Aviation supports the WOF ground operations through aerial support by dropping water and fire suppressants on the fireline, to cool it down enough for the ground teams to move in and extinguish the flames.
During wildfires operations, pilots are often required to fly in confined spaces, mountainous terrain and in between tall trees, with low visibility and windy conditions. This poses a huge risk to the pilot and possible damage to the aircraft – especially with regards to the tail rotor on the helicopters. Flying Crewmen help mitigate some of these risks.
“These five men were selected based on leadership skills, job performance and their passion for aviation,” explains Carel van der Merwe, Head of Kishugu® Aviation Training Organisation (ATO), who conducts this specialised training. “They went through seven weeks of in-depth training to ensure they are equipped and can competently perform their jobs.”
The training included theory, practical activities and also a final examination.
“This training was an opportunity of a lifetime,” exclaims Vukosi Eugene Valoyi from Sondela. “We learned a lot about the Huey Helicopters, all its different parts and how to help ensure that it operates safely. I am looking forward to implementing the knowledge I gained.”
“I am very proud of this group,” explains Sydney Gininda, Kishugu® ATO Instructor. “They worked very hard and I believe they will conduct their jobs well.”
Most of these new flying crewmen will be located in the Western Cape to assist with the 2018/2019 Summer Fire Season.