Johann Kriek & Jacques Kriek in an Alouette III military helicopter. This was the first time the brothers were exposed to helicopters. The helicopter was used to dart some Zebra near Smidtsdrift. This was the first game darting operation from a helicopter that Dr. Johan Kriek attempted.
The dream really started for Johann Kriek (Jnr), son of Dr. Johan Kriek and Mrs. Daleen Kriek when the Airwolf TV-series was aired during the time. The episodes were never missed and a passion was born for these flying machines. Johann Kriek wanted be be a helicopter pilot, airplane pilot and astronaut when he was a kid. He visited the school library as frequently as he could to learn more about the mechanics of helicopters.
This picture was taken in Kasungu National Park in Malawi during the first Malawi operation during 1986. This Hughes 300 helicopter was used to herd and dart animals.
The Hughes 300 helicopter was an ideal machine for game capture and this was the first helicopter to be used by Dr. Kriek when starting with his commercial game darting business, the picture was taken at Rooipoort.
The Robinson R22 helicopter became more popular during this time and Dr. Kriek also used these machines for darting. This would also be the most popular helicopter amongst clients due to the low operating cost. This Red Hartebeest was darted at Pniel using an R22 Beta helicopter. Mr. Albrecht Meilan is holding a Red Hartebeest.
The commercial game darting business was developing quite rapidly and Dr. Kriek was called to Oranjemund to dart Gemsbok for De Beers Consolidated Mines. The operation was carried out under strict security in the restricted diamond area with a Squirrel helicopter.
The A350 Squirrel was used for the operation, a turbine 7-seater machine. It is a great helicopter, but proved to be quite heavy for game darting. The strong down wash from this big machine caused flight problems for the darts.
Operation Malawi was probably one of the largest game capture operations in Africa. Dr. Kriek used a Bell Jet ranger 206 from Ancom to herd, dart and cargo sling animals. The choice of a turbine powered helicopter was due to the fact that Njika National Park was 7500ft amsl. This was one of the most economical machines to handle the operation. During operation Malawi, the whole family went with Dr. Kriek to observe. Here Johann Kriek (Jnr) at age 11 can be seen at the Jet ranger where an early passion for helicopters was born.
Cargo slinging was a major operation during Operation Malawi 1991. The helicopter flew a total of 104 hours to herd, dart and sling animals. Dr. Dirk Neethling can be seen helping to hook the cargo net to the hook. Dr. Neethling is a good friend of Dr. Kriek and went along to assist him. The Jet ranger helicopter with Heleen Kriek (Left) and Johann Kriek (Right). Johann Kriek is now a commercial pilot.
The helicopter was used for darting purposes in Njika Park. It was a heavy machine for game capture, but proved itself. The machine was piloted by a highly experienced pilot, Mr. Dirk Albers. The rare Roan antelope were cargo slung to the trucks as the terrain was very bad. This made the operation very expensive due to increased flying time.
Game darting operations were gaining popularity after 1991 and Dr. Kriek immobilized a wide variety of species including Giraffe, Elephant, Rhino and Lion. The pilot on the picture is Jason Decarteret, a pilot from Britain.
The Hughes 300 on this picture was often used when R22 machines were unavailable and proved to be a workhorse and a good game capture machine.
The idea of owning a helicopter started in Rhodesia when Dr. Kriek had to drive to remote farms to do pregnancy tests on cows. This was during the war and numerous of his colleagues were killed by freedom fighters. They wanted to purchase a helicopter, but was warned that the type of helicopter was below standard. During 1982 Dr. Kriek was planning to obtain a helicopter, but decided against it as the demand was not adequate. During 2002 - 2003 Dr. Kriek and his son Johann Kriek discussed the matter and decided to go ahead with the order of a new Robinson R22 Beta II helicopter.
The new Robinson R22 Beta II helicopter was purchased. Johann Kriek and Dr. Kriek both commenced with their private pilots licence's and instruction from the late Solo van Rooyen. The first solo flights were nerve wrecking, but took place without any incidents. The training ws completed and Dr. Kriek and his son Johann obtained their private pilots licence's with game capture ratings.
The two new pilots had to build flying hours as quickly and safely as possible for their commercial licences. This was not a problem as they own a game ranch which constantly uses a helicopter for immobilizing game.
Safety is the most important aspect of any aviation operation and ground operations seldom come into the spotlight. It was decided to build a stainless steel fuel trailer to ensure better fuel quality and safety when transporting fuel. The fuel trailer was fitted with 4x4 suspension, anti-static system, electric pump, filters and water traps. This was a major safety concern as drums used to be transported on the back of a pickup truck.
When flying, there is always a risk of fire, especially during a crash. The crew decided that fire resistant flightsuits were the answer and purchased them. These suits project a professional image and keeps the pilots safe during operations. During this period, father and son obtained their commercial helicopter licenses.
The R22 helicopter was flown for 1200 hours. It was decided that a bigger helicopter would be needed for charters and tourism after the company Kriek Helicopters (Pty) Ltd was registered and air services licence's obtained. The operators licence was also obtained.
The R22 helicopter was to be sold and Charlie Marais bought the beauty. The order was placed for a new Robinson R44 Raven II with Air-conditioning and this was done long before the sale.
After a long wait and some paperwork issues, the R44 helicopter arrived at Starlite in Durban during September 2007 . The family flew down to personally collect the new helicopter and fly her back to the base near Kimberley - Northern Cape. The ferry to Kimberley was approximately 4 hours and the machine was flown over the Drakensberg and KZN Midlands. It was a very scenic flight!
Johann Kriek during one of the first game capture operations with the new Robinson R44. Johann was very impressed with the effective design of the tail rotor and the increased power and payload of the Raven II. "It's a joy to fly an air-conditioned machine in the hot Northern Cape".
Dr. Kriek and his son Johann Kriek preparing for a game capture operation. The journey was definitely not an easy one, but our passion for flying and the benefits of owning a helicopter carried us through. We thank our God Almighty for His protection and blessings.
The demand for a helicopter in the Upington region is growing and we sign a lease agreement with Upington owner Skyjack cc. The helicopter is used for filming, photography, game census and tourism. The helicopter is a R44 Raven II equipped with air-conditioning.
The Heli Alliance is in full motion with operators in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Richards Bay, Mossel Bay, Polokwane, Kimberley, Upington, East London, Maun (Botswana) and Livingstone (Zambia). The Alliance has access to helicopters from 4 seats to 14 seats with the choice of single or twin turbine engines.
The management of Kriek Helicopters decides to launch a garden route tourism flight project from the Petroport Tsitsikamma (Storms river bridge). The flights were very popular but very seasonal. This is truly one of the best parts of South Africa to view from a helicopter.
The Kriek Helistop is launched in the Kimberley CBD, the helipad will be utilized for tourism flights at the Big Hole and transfers of businessmen and VIP’s to and from Kimberley and Mattanu Private Game Reserve and other destinations.
The R66 helicopter is added to our Operating ceriticate to cater for the increased luxury charter demand and tourism flights. The Robinson R66 turbine is ideal for long distance charter flights and has a spacious interior and increased performance to accommodate up to two couples with luggage.
Johann Kriek experiences a nostalgic moment as he completes his Bell 206 Jetranger conversion at Henley air. This purpose is to use the Jetranger helicopter for possible future projects and to convert to the Longranger helicopter in future. The Bell Jetranger rating also enables us to do advanced training and emergencies on the only fully approved Bell helicopter simulator in Johannesburg at a fraction of the cost.