Safika is helping to provide books to poor African children throughout the continent by supporting Australian books for Children of Africa (ABCA)

Safika is helping to provide books to poor African children throughout the continent by supporting Australian books for Children of Africa (ABCA) So far, ABCA has distributed over 160 000 books to more than 100 schools and institutions in Africa.  The Nkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa was the 100th recipient of ABCA […]

Trakka is going from strength to strength.

Safika partner company, Trakka, is going from strength to strength. It’s searchlights form an essential part of search and rescue missions in this part of the USA. Watch the video. Read more

Italian Air Force is uses TrakkaBeam A800 searchlights supplied by Trakka

The Italian Air Force is now using TrakkaBeam A800 searchlights supplied by Safika partner company Trakka. The A800 is a fully automated multi-mission searchlight system, with an integrated pan and tilt that can be remotely positioned in both elevation and azimuth. Read more

Safika sponsors educational visits by underprivileged schoolchildren to ArtMode.

Vanessa Holiday, convener of Cape Town’s ArtMode exhibition, has thanked Safika for sponsoring educational visits by underprivileged schoolchildren to ArtMode.  “Sheer joy and wonder is the best way to describe the reaction of the children, most of whom had never been exposed to art before,” she said.

Safika sponsored underprivileged children to visit the exhibition and take part in art workshops led by Bloemfontein-born artist and art educator Atang Tshikare. “Two of the learners showed real promise,” said Tshikare. “We have given them some time to make some pictures and they will be displayed at the next ArtMode exhibition.” Read more

Safika sponsors educational art tours for underprivileged kids

Safika is taking art education to underprivileged Cape Town schoolchildren by sponsoring Artmode, an innovative art exhibition in which visitors can see the artists at work.

Safika will take children from poor schools that do not offfer art education, to Artmode, where they will get a guided tour of the exhibition and participate in art workshops facilitated by Bloemfontein-born artist Atang Tshikare.

Tshikare has taught art all over the world and is known internationally for his ability to develop creativity in young people.

“Children in South Africa’s poor areas get little exposure to art because schools very rarely have the resources to teach it,” said Moss Ngoasheng, Safika’s chief executive.  “Yet art enriches the human spirit; children need to be given the opportunity to know about this part of life.”

Ngoasheng said that he would like to see children from underprivileged backgrounds have the opportunity to become artists and art curators and administrators.

“We need a skilled new generation who will understand the vital need South Africa has to preserve its heritage and proudly display its art.  Who knows, perhaps one of the children we help to see an art exhibition for the first time, will one day be a famous artist or head of the national gallery.”

Artmode opens on Thursday May 21, 2015 at 18:00 at the Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Cape Town.

The Gift of SAR

Story and photos by Skip Robinson

Safika partner company Trakka plays an important role in US rescue efforts.


Technical high altitude hoist rescues are a large part of Two Bear Air’s operations. Here, its Bell 429 shows what it can do.

Flathead County, in Northwestern Montana, contains some of the most ruggedly beautiful land in the United States. More than 94 percent of its over 5,000 square miles are national or state forest land, wilderness, or used for agriculture or timber, and its soaring mountain ranges and expansive lakes create a natural playground and are an irresistible draw to residents and visitors alike.

But what makes the county particularly special is the unique form of aviation support it receives, in the form of Two Bear Air. The operation has been providing lifesaving search-and-rescue (SAR) services, as well as flying law enforcement missions, since its launch just two years ago. For those living in or visiting the region, the mere fact that there’s a SAR aviation unit at all is something for which they’re hugely thankful. And the fact that it’s operating a brand new hoist-equipped Bell 429, as well as an MD 500E, would make it the envy of many SAR aviation units around the country. But for an outsider, the most noteworthy aspect is how the service is funded — at no cost whatsoever to the taxpayer. And those who are rescued never have to pay a cent. All costs for the operation, from the acquisition of the aircraft to the associated training for the aircrews and maintenance, are covered by local philanthropist Mike Goguen. Thus far, Goguen has spent well over $10 million on Two Bear Air — his gift to the people of Flathead County.

The program’s origins can be traced back to former Flathead County Undersheriff (now Deputy Sheriff) Jordan White’s efforts, in September 2011, to raise funds for SAR equipment to enhance the region’s capabilities. Goguen learned that there was a need for a hoist-equipped SAR helicopter (ALERT Air Ambulance serves the region with a Bell 407, but it doesn’t have a hoist), and Two Bear Air was quickly created. The initial crew consisted of White (who was appointed executive director of the operation), chief pilot Jim Pierce, and Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry. White and Curry were designated to be trained as the rescue flight crew. With a Bell 429 on order, Two Bear began operations with a Bell 407 in August 2012.

With many lakes and rivers in the region it supports, Two Bear needs to be prepared to conduct rescues over water.

With many lakes and rivers in the region it supports, Two Bear needs to be prepared to conduct rescues over water.

The range of missions Two Bear flies is as vast as Montana itself. In addition to its SAR work, it conducts a broad range of law enforcement operations for local, federal, and state agencies, and its missions have taken it across Montana and into Idaho. The helicopters, operated as public use aircraft, are flown under the authority of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, which also provides the aircraft’s rear crewmembers. Two Bear also works in close partnership with Kalispell-based ALERT Air Ambulance.

“Many times ALERT will call Two Bear Air when a hoist rescue is required, and Two Bear Air will call ALERT when a medical response is required,” said White. “It’s a good relationship and helps everyone involved.”

The type of calls Two Bear responds to will vary according to the season. During summer months, hiking and climbing accidents are common, requiring technical hoist rescues at higher altitudes that tax the performance of the aircraft. Watersport accidents are also common, requiring the crew to train for water rescues with rescue swimmers. The winter brings more searches and less hoist work, with snowmobilers, skiers and hikers at risk of getting lost in bad weather. According to White, night operations in either season are never routine, and require an in-depth risk assessment before launch. “Everything around our base is very remote, so when we’re called out, it’s to very dark places,” he said. “That’s when our infared camera, NVGs [night vision goggles] and crew resource management comes into play — and we use them all.”

Choosing the Right Tools


The combination of an MD 500E and a Bell 429 supports Two Bear’s mission profile perfectly.

Two Bear’s Bell 429 (designated “Air 1”) and MD 500E (“Air 2”) are based at Glacier International Airport in Kalispell, Mont. And while the organization always planned to add the 429 to its fleet, the 500E was brought in when Two Bear’s Bell 407 was damaged while servicing a remote radio repeater site. White said the decision to replace the 407 with the 500E — rather than another 407 — was a practical one. “We felt a 500E would suit us better. It’s a smaller, more economical helicopter with a footprint that allows us to get into tighter places,” he said.

The aircraft began operations in July 2013, and has a Garmin 500H glass cockpit, is fully NVG-compatible, and has an extended range tank. Due to Two Bear’s desire to keep the aircraft as light as possible, the 500E does not have an infrared camera or searchlight. It’s considered the operation’s “worker bee,” and is routinely used to lift equipment and conduct searches, or for missions where the 429 is considered more than the organization needs. “We recognized early on that having a backup or support aircraft would save flight time on the Bell 429, and having two aircraft allows us to conduct multiple missions simultaneously, which is not uncommon,” said White. “Because of its size and rotor diameter, the 500E is a great aircraft for searches. It’s able to get into riverbeds and tight canyons, and do ‘toe-ins’ and ‘one-skids’ during insertions.”

The 429 was delivered in October 2013, and crews soon began hoist training with Priority 1 Air Rescue, based in Mesa, Ariz. “Once Mike Goguen made a commitment to this, [we] started looking for a company able to develop and train the flight crews,” said White. “Priority 1 rose to the top on the list and showed it had a training strategy to get Two Bear Air in operation quickly.”

Checking out a rancher after a search mission. With Two Bear lending a helping hand, local law enforcement agencies now have the air support they once could have only dreamed of.

Checking out a rancher after a search mission. With Two Bear lending a helping hand, local law enforcement agencies now have the air support they once could have only dreamed of.

The training of the first crew was conducted over two intense weeks, with additional crews taking part in subsequent sessions in Kalispell. The initial crew then completed an advanced training curriculum, allowing them to perform night hoists, high-angle and swift water rescues, hoisting to vessels, and rescue swimmer deployment.

According to White, Two Bear also looked at the MD 902, Airbus Helicopters EC145, and the AgustaWestland AW109 during its initial research. “The 429 had new technology engines, a very smooth rotor system and a spacious and usable rear cabin,” said White. “We also liked the cockpit and its avionics package. . . . and it hasn’t let us down.”

Pierce, the 429’s primary pilot, said the aircraft’s power was impressive. “It exceeds the charted performance at our airport and up to altitude,” he said. “We perform missions up to 10,000 feet AMSL [above mean sea level] without any problem, even during the summer months.”

In particular, Pierce praised the 429’s smoothness, its lateral stability during hoist missions, and  its tail rotor authority. “If a rescue requires hovering with a tailwind, there is plenty of control, and it flies without vibration up to its max airspeed,” he said. “The only issue we have had is the tail rotor pitch links wearing out too fast. Bell is working on a solution, and the last set seems quite a bit better.”

The 429’s cockpit is fully NVG-compatible, with night vision configuration completed by Bell, and goggles and training provided by Aviation Specialties Unlimited.

Mountain hoisting can take place over 10,000 feet, but normal operation occurs between 4,000 to 8,000 feet.

The aircraft is equipped with an Aerocomputers 3D- mapping system, Avalex monitors and video recorder, a TrakkaBeam searchlight, and an L3 Wescam MX-10 camera system. “The IR [infrared] camera is really nice with excellent picture quality,” said Pierce. “We find the reference points unbeatable — we use the IR from -30 F to 100 F and the contrast and clarity is amazing.”

Two Bear uses a Goodrich high-speed hoist on the 429, and Pierce said it works well and maintenance is low. Along with standard survival gear, other rescue equipment carried on the aircraft includes a collapsible rescue basket, a collapsible litter, a screamer suit, a plastic backboard, a pep bag and rescue strops — with the majority supplied by Priority 1. The crew also carries sidearms and rifles if needed, as coming across a bear is not unheard of.

Looking ahead

Following an intense year of development at Two Bear, the next 12 months will see the organization continue to refine its operations, while expanding its relationships with nearby jurisdictions in both Montana and Idaho.

“We travel and do presentations on our capabilities with anyone who asks,” said Pierce. “Our philosophy is using the resources we have to help save lives.” In this vein, Two Bear is currently working with the Glacier National Park and the US Forest Service to establish hoist insertion training programs for their staff. Further training in high-angle and swift water rescues is planned, and the organization’s crew continues to expand, with four new rear crewmembers recently joining.

“When Two Bear Air was being developed, no one could have guessed there would be over 100 missions in the first year with the 429,” said White. “We have the proper aircraft for the mission, we have highly motivated and focused crews, and our plan is to continue to utilize these assets to provide the highest quality of care and support to our citizens.”

Having to operate in all conditions, the Bell 429 is fully equipped for both the law enforcement and rescue missions. Two Bear Air’s initial flight crew (from left): Sheriff Chuck Curry, Deputy Jordon White, and pilot Jim Pierce.

When Two Bear took delivery of the Bell 429, the man funding the entire operation, Mike Goguen, spoke modestly about the investment he was making on behalf of his community. “You can’t put a value on saving even one life,” he said. “Montana is a place where we help our neighbors, and I feel privileged to be able to give this gift to the Flat-head Valley community.” And with such an immediate and dramatic impact made in the 429’s first year in operation, the enduring value of the gift of Two Bear to those in Northwest Montana over the coming years will be truly immeasurable.

Tshipi é Ntle – Making Vision a Reality

BEE Manganese Mine in the Northern Cape exports Two Million Tonnes, becomes world’s fifth biggest

Black Economic Empowerment’s Northern Cape manganese mine, Tshipi Borwa, has announced that it exported two million tonnes of manganese ore in 2014 and has become the fifth biggest manganese mine in the world.

“This is a very significant achievement, particularly because Tshipi has only been operating for two years,” said Brendan Robinson, Tshipi’s chief executive officer.  “Tshipi Borwa Mine is now one of the four largest manganese mines in South Africa and one of the five largest manganese mines in the world.”

Tshipi exported one million tonnes of semi carbonate medium grade manganese ore in its first year of production, and two million tonnes in its second year. “This aggressive production ramp up was achieved in spite of numerous challenges encountered developing the R2.2 billion mine, which included the construction of a state-of-the-art processing plant, railway carriage loading station and railway siding,” said Robinson.

“This unprecedented milestone has been achieved through the sheer determination and unwavering support of our staff, regulatory authorities, Transnet and our principal contractors, Aveng Moolmans, African Mining and Crushing and Fraser Alexander (Bulk Tech). It is a testament to what can be achieved if we work towards the realisation of a common goal,” he added.

Tshipi é Ntle Manganese Mining is a joint venture between Ntsimbintle Mining, Jupiter Mines and OM Holdings. Robinson said that Tshipi’s strategic partnership with OM Holdings, a leading manganese ore and metal producer and marketer, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, has assisted Tshipi to penetrate the Chinese, Korean and European markets under very difficult global economic conditions. The John Taolo Gaetsewe Development Trust, a broad-based Northern Cape NGO is also a significant shareholder.

Saki Macozoma, chairman of the Tshipi board of directors, said, “This is good news on a number of levels. Tshipi Borwa Mine will continue to produce ore for at least the next sixty years. That means employment for the people of South Africa, royalties for the country and profits flowing to shareholders for at least the next six decades.”

Mr. Macozoma said, “This is a major milestone for Tshipi and represents a significant achievement for South Africa. It proves that Black Economic Empowerment has come of age.”

In November 2013, Macozoma announced that Ntsimbintle would conduct a feasibility study into another new manganese mine in the Northern Cape.  “That study is now underway and what we are seeing is very promising,” he said.  “If all goes well, we could have another new manganese mine constructed over the next few years.”

Justin Pitt, a director of Ntsimbintle, acknowledged the help Ntsimbintle received from the Department of Mineral Resources. “The Department can be congratulated for being successful in facilitating the admittance of a new broad based BEE manganese mining company into what was once a privileged and non-inclusive sector of the economy.”

The majority of the Tshipi product was railed to the ports of Port Elizabeth, Ngqura and Saldanha via the Transnet National Rail Network, with the remaining ore being transported via road/rail combinations.