Paratrooper saves his mate

16 September 2016 - 08:21 By GRAEME HOSKEN

A special forces operator escaped with his life, thanks to a mid-air rescue by a fellow parachutist. The duo were part of an international team of special forces operators conducting a parachute jump at Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition and show late yesterday.The soldier was one of the first to jump from an air force C130 Hercules heavy-lift transport aircraft in the mass parachute jump, which involved paratroopers from Zambia, Angola and Zimbabwe.The paratroopers were free- falling for several seconds when the show's commentator drew spectators' attention to the paratrooper in distress.He could be seen spiralling towards the ground, his parachute trailing above him as the commentator described how he should be releasing his twisted parachute.As spectators watched, the paratrooper, who managed to get his parachute to open partially, passed another paratrooper who had jumped before him.The second paratrooper, realising his colleague was in distress, managed to move rapidly towards him to help.At the time of going to print it was not known exactly how the second paratrooper managed to help his mate, although he could clearly be seen moving above the top of the twisted parachute.Positioning himself above it, the [second] paratrooper appeared to struggle with the parachute before it floated away.The soldier in distress managed to deploy his reserve parachute seconds later.SA Air Force spokesman Colonel Ronald Maseko said the second special forces operator had helped the first to break free of the main parachute using "buddy aid" protocols."It's precisely these kinds of incidents that the paratroopers and special forces operators train for."When the soldier saw what was happening, he approached the other parachutist to provide assistance. He was able to help get the parachute free."Maseko said both soldiers landed near the air base uninjured."Given what happened and the number of paratroopers around him, it is fortunate that he managed to avoid colliding into any other parachutists."As part of the investigation, the parachute will be examined to determine what caused it to malfunction," Maseko said.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.