Burn survivors reach for the skies

It was a normal Saturday morning for most, but for a few burn survivors, it was a morning to remember forever. Star Helicopters and Cell C (A cellular network provider) offered to take a few burn survivors and a few children from Reach For a Dream for a flip in the Cell C trauma helicopter, operated from the Johannesburg Hospital.

Upon arrival the children stared wide-eyed at the machine as it sat quietly on it’s pad. We were briefed on all the safety tips by the very friendly staff of the helicopter, after which the turbines started to whine. Slowly but surely the rotor blades started picking up speed along with the hearts and adrenalin of all and sundry. We were instructed then to hold onto our hats and headed toward the growling machine. In a very well orchestrated safe operating procedure, in no time we were strapped in, headsets on, and the turbines speeding up. Shuddering into the clear Johannesburg skies, we soared over houses, flew over the city, and cruised passed the iconic Post Office Tower.

It was amazing to see what people do on the roofs of tall blocks of flats. Some were doing their washing, while others took a moment out to catch a few rays of sun. As we flew over, they seemed not to even notice our presence. We crossed over a ridge to see an amazing sight, something we all just take for granted at ground-level – the biggest man-made forest in the world. Johannesburg, from one horizon to the other, is a very beautiful place.

Before we knew it, we were shuddering to a landing pad, touchdown, doors open, and that was that. It felt like I owned the skies, if only for a brief moment. A big thank you goes out to Star helicopters and Cell C for that very fine experience, not to mention the wide smiles on all the faces.

By Richard van Zyl.