SANParks celebrates South Africa’s first black game capture-rated pilot

Posted on 7 December 2020

SANParks announced the historic news that David Simelane  has officially been named as South Africa’s first black game capture-rated pilot.

Simelane, who goes by the nickname “Blackhawk”, received this honour on December 2, after he completed his game capture rating with flying colours. The game capture rating is an endorsement on his pilot license, which Simelane acquired over a decade ago.

SANParks celebrates South Africa's first black game capture rated pilot


Acquiring a game capture rating is a very complex pilot endorsement rating where a helicopter pilot needs to take into consideration the environment, animals, and the crew all while managing the actual helicopter itself.

Simelane has been a helicopter pilot for 16 years and has flown all over the world including Madagascar and South Sudan. ‘I have a passion for flying and now I get to combine that with my love for wildlife and nature. I wake up in the morning knowing that every flight I do is to make a difference in nature conservation and in people’s lives,’ he said in a statement.

SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said, ‘we are extremely proud of Simelane and his achievement. He is an inspiration to many young black aspiring pilots and we hope that his passion will inspire more people to choose this industry as their careers.’

Simelane started his career at SANSPark earlier this year and is Kruger National Park’s first black helicopter pilot working under SANParks Air Services, which provides aerial support for many of the departments within SANParks, and describes his job as ‘a calling and a passion’.

Mketeni emphasised that Simelane’s achievement is a reflection of SANPark’s action to improve employees’ expertise to address inequalities and disparities in staff profiles. SANParks is committed towards the development and implementation of access, equity, and equal employment opportunities within the organisation.

‘As a world society has started to realise how important both our natural and cultural heritage is and with a passionate and educated person like Simelane at SANParks we can continue to conserve and leave future generations with the natural beauty and heritage of South Africa. Today is a proud day for SANParks and the SANParks Air Services, we salute David Simelane and wish him well as he goes onwards and upwards,’ said Mketeni.

Picture: Twitter/@SANParks

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