“Being a command and control pilot is my passion,” says Erick Nel, Command and Control pilot for Working on Fire (WOF) Aviation,which offers an aerial firefighting component to the South African Government’s WOF Programme. “It is a very challenging job though and you need to multitask well. The cockpit can get very busy with all the observing and radio work – and then you still have to keep the plane in the air. But, I have been in aerial firefighting for 12 years and I think it is one of the most rewarding aviation jobs you can find. It is an honour to be part of a team who fights to save lives and livelihoods.”The importance of the spotter during aerial firefighting is often overlooked, but its function is essential for the safety and efficiency of wildland firefighting operational.
The Working on Fire (WOF) programme, funded by the Department of Environment, Forestry, and Fisheries, will be reaching a milestone of having been in existence for 17 years during the month of September.