Break time quickly turned into a mattress-led rescue mission for Hoërskool Hermanus students after a paraglider pilot got trapped in a tree. Thanks to their efforts, his landing had a much happier ending!
Hermanus, South Africa (15 May, 2023)—Operation ‘safe fall’ swiftly became the talk of break time for Hermanus students and residents.
What started as a regular school day last week took a turn for the heroic after teachers noticed that a paraglider had an unfortunate tree landing in treetops across from Hoërskool Hermanus.
According to the South African Hang-gliding and Paragliding Association (SAHPA) the paraglider is a 34-year-old pilot who was flying under radio instruction at the time.
Hoërskool Hermanus teachers immediately set to help by calling emergency services. However, the tree had caught the paraglider at a height no ladder in town could reach.
Mrs De Villiers, Mr Kuhn, Mr Mangiagalli and Ms Nel decided to rally the student’s minds for the next best option; encouraging them to think outside of the box to help the paraglider where possible.
Break time was in full swing and the assignment had been shared: Find the best ‘safe fall’ option possible!
The student heroes ran with the idea in the most literal sense, racing to collect enough high jump mattresses to cushion the paraglider’s landing.
“Within moments the tree was lined all round with the [high jump matrasses] that the learners came running with. Ms Schulenberg was on hand, being a qualified First Aider and assisted where possible.”—Hoërskool Hermanus.
Watch: Operation Safe Fall in Full Swing
After the break ended, one of the trees branches that held the paraglider gave way to his journey back to land. Luckily, his unforeseen fall was mattress-proofed thanks to the teachers and students, making for only mid injuries.
The pilot was shortly assessed by paramedics and went to the hospital for a much-smoother recovery thanks to the student’s speedy response.
“The actions of our pupils and quick thinking of our teachers spoke volumes amidst emergency, and we are extremely proud of the way they handled the situation.” —Hoërskool Hermanus.