The SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service and the registration ZS-RCS
SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service
The AMS can trace its origins to the SA Red Cross Air Ambulance Service that was started in 1966 in the Western Cape. The AMS plays a vital role by providing emergency rescue and air ambulance services as well as a community outreach programme taking critically needed healthcare to impoverished rural communities.
Significant historical highlights of the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service
1966 The Air Ambulance Service of the Cape Region of the South African Red Cross Society was established.
1967 Cessna 205 aircraft replaced with a single-engine Cessna 206 Super Skywagon [ZS-RCS(1)].
1971 Piper Aztec Spirit of Rotary I introduced [ZS-RCS(2)].
1981 World First for South Africa – a flying heart is transferred from PE to Cape Town for transplant.
1982 A twin-engine ten-seater Piper Chieftain, the Spirit of Rotary II takes to the sky.
1988 Maiden flight of Cessna Citation II jet aircraft, Spirit of the Cape [ZS-RCS(3)].
1995 A second Citation jet air ambulance service is based in Johannesburg.
1996 The Flying Doctor and Health Outreach Service launched in the Northern Cape.
1996 Maiden flight of the first Pilatus PC-12 aircraft.
1998 The Flying Doctor and Health Outreach Service launched in KwaZulu-Natal.
Nelspruit and Johannesburg FW AAS are withdrawn, due to increase of private sector services.
2000 A helicopter air ambulance service was launched in the Western Cape at Cape Town International.
2002 A helicopter rescue service was started in the Western Cape at Cape Town International.
2004 Mpumalanga helicopter service started in Nelspruit.
2005 Emergency helicopter service established in Southern Cape.
Dedicated emergency medical service established at Durban International (fixed and rotor wing).
Dedicated emergency medical service launched at Kimberley Airport.
Emergency helicopter service established at Richards Bay Airport.
The AMS received the Cape Town Volunteer Centre/Mayoral Team
The AMS was a finalist in the 2005 Sowetan/Old Mutual/SABC Community Builder of the Year Awards in acknowledgement of the AMS's role in community development.
2006 The AMS partnered with the South African Airways Cadet Pilot Programme to develop previously disadvantaged pilots, programme called the Pilot Development Programme (PDP).
Establishment of the AMS inhouse maintenance department.
The Flying Doctor Service has expanded to include a ground support unit, based at Pietermaritzburg.
An independent health economic study was done to investigate the cost of an air ambulance in relation to a road ambulance.
2007 The AMS in partnership with the Mpumalanga Provincial Department of Health established an aero-medical service, operating from the old Nelspruit Airport, in August 2007.
AMS took delivery of the Eurocopter EC 130 B4.
2008 AMS developed and manufactured its own MedKit for the Eurocopter EC 130 B4 helicopter in conjunction with a local supplier.
The AMS in partnership with the Free State Provincial Department of Health established an emergency aero-medical service in the Free State.
Establishment of the AMS National Operations Centre (NOC).
Celebration of 10 years of service to the community of KZN.
2009 The AMS in partnership with the Limpopo Department of Health and Social Development established an emergency aero-medical service in Limpopo.
Launch of rescue service in the Eden District Central Karoo in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Health Metro Emergency Medical Service.
AMS awarded the National EMS contract by National Treasury for eight participating provinces.
The establishment of the AMS Training Department.
The introduction of the AgustaWestland 119K single-engine rotor wing aircraft.
AMS developed and manufactured its own MedKit for the
AgustaWestland 119K helicopter in conjunction with a local supplier.
The introduction of the AgustaWestland 109 Grand twin-engine
rotor wing aircraft.
The registration ZS-RCS
The registration ZS-RCS is derived from the initial letters of Red Cross Society. So far four aircraft have carried this registration.
ZS-RCS(1) Cessna U206B; construction number U206-0774; ex N3474L; registered in South Africa in April 1967; 1967 model; reregistered ZS-IJR (registered in February 1971)
This photograph of Cessna 206 ZS-RCS(1) was taken on 3 December 1968 by Johan Prozesky.
ZS-RCS(2) Piper PA-23 Aztec E250; construction number 27-4519; ex ZS-IKF, N13935; registered as ZS-RCS in February 1971; 1971 model; to ZS-LNK (registered on 2 May 1988)
Here Piper Aztec ZS-RCS(2) “Spirit of Rotary” is seen at DF Malan Airport (FACT) on 22 January 1977.
Closeup of name and Rotary badge on ZS-RCS(2), also taken at DF Malan on 22 January 1977.
Closeup of bilingual logo on ZS-RCS(2), also taken on 22 January 1977.
This image of ZS-RCS(2) was taken five years later (on 20 January 1982) at DF Malan Airport. Note that the name of the aircraft is in Afrikaans on the nose: Die Gees van Rotary (the equivalent of The Spirit of Rotary).
ZS-RCS(2) is illustrated at DF Malan Airport on 25 June 1986. On this date several changes were noted in the colour scheme of the aircraft. The cross on the tailfin is larger, the aircraft now sports two red cheatlines, “Society” has been dropped from the logo and the logo is now in English only, the titles are “LUGAMBULANS” (the equivalent of Air Ambulance), and the name (in Afrikaans) appears on the engine nacelle.
ZS-RCS(3) Cessna 550 Citation II; construction number 550-0065; ex N55SX; registered in South Africa in June 1988; to N144GA (certificate issued on 18 April 2005)
By 22 January 1990 the Red Cross Society operated a jet aircraft. Cessna Citation ZS-RCS(3) is shown at DF Malan Airport. The titles are RED CROSS AIR AMBULANCE (the logo appears below the titles). It also has the titles METRO and the Metro badge on the door behind the cockpit. In addition the aircraft is named “Spirit of the Cape”.
ZS-RCS(4) Aerospatiale AS350B2 Ecureuil; construction number 3157;
ex N747CH (certificate issued on 24 August 1999 and cancelled
20 February 2004 as exported to South Africa); registered as ZS-RCS on
30 April 2004
In this image Ecureuil ZS-RCS(4) is depicted at Cape Town International Airport (as DF Malan has been renamed0 (FACT) on 19 November 2005. Several titles appear on the aircraft: LIFESAVING SA, NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute), METRO WEST CAPE, RESCUE, AMS and METRO RESCUE. The logo comprises the titles SOUTH AFRICAN RED CROSS SOCIETY and SARCS.
Air-Britain Business Jets International, 1990
Air-Britain Civil Aircraft Registers of Africa, 1975
Air-Britain Civil Aircraft Registers of Africa, 1981
Air-Britain Civil Aircraft Registers of Africa, 1988
Avdex South African Register
Federal Aviation Administration Registry
SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service: The section with the heading “SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service” was compiled from information found on the website of the South African Red Cross Society and SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service http://www.ams.org.za/about-us/history#tabs-tabs-2
The General Aviation Handbook: A Guide to Postwar General Aviation
Manufacturers and their Aircraft, Rod Simpson, 2005
ROTORSPOT Rotorcraft Registrations Database
COPYRIGHT IMAGES: Gabriel le Roux/Aviationpics.co.za 2015
Special copyright note: One photograph [ZS-RCS(1)] was not taken by me, but by Johan Prozesky.