Team focus ...

  • stephan rossouw

Today our journey of getting to know and introducing our team members takes us to the Ostrich capital of the world – Oudtshoorn, the largest town in the Little Karoo.  The AMS base in Oudtshoorn provides an emergency rescue and air ambulance service to the community. We take a glimpse into the life of one of our rotor wing pilots, Stephan Rossouw who has been with the organisation for eight years. A man with a good heart, a big smile and zest for life is a few words that is very fitting to this captain! Here’s what he had to say …

Who is Stephan? “I grew up in the Hex River Valley in the Western Cape, on a table grape farm, which our family has been farming for three generations. I attended high school at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch, matriculated in 1996.  Joined the Air Force after school and received my wings in 1999 at CFS Langebaanweg.  My initial intention was to fly fighters, but after much consideration and very good advice from my instructors, I eventually decided to head for the helicopter line.  I was based at various bases around the country, of which most time was spent at 22 Squadron at AFB Ysterplaat.  Some of my highlights include flood relief work in Mozambique in 2000 as well as 6 tours in Burundi with Alo III gunships and Oryx helicopters for the UN and AU.  After 10 years in the South African Air Force (SAAF), I joined the family farming business, whilst doing part time contract flying on Pumas in Pakistan, Sudan and Angola.  I decided to take up flying on a more permanent basis once again and therefore joined the AMS at the Oudtshoorn base.  I spent the last 8 years combining EMS flying with export table grape farming.  I studied agriculture, specialising in table grape production, at Elsenburg Agricultural College. Currently, I am busy studying B Comm Business Management through Unisa.  I got married in 2003 in Blouberg, Cape Town, and have since had three children who are currently 10, 8 and 3 years old.”

Did you always want to be a pilot? “I always had the desire to become a pilot.  My granddad was the first person to own and fly an airplane in the Hex River Valley in the 1930’s, which probably initiated the interest and dream of flying.  Watching Top Gun way too many times probably also played a role…”

How did your career start in the aero-medical field? “By joining AMS in 2009.  Previous exposure in the aero-medical field included various MVA’s with Oryx helicopters on the N1 in the Western Cape and Free State, flood relief in Mozambique in 2000 and earthquake relief work in the Kashmir region of Pakistan in 2005.”

What’s the best/worst thing that happened to you since you started at AMS? “Meeting Mohammed Shaik – still can’t decide whether it is the best or the worst thing….? lol”

What do you do in your spare time? “Spending as much time as possible with family and friends, camping, playing tennis with my daughters and running long distance to clear the mind.”

What’s the one thing about you few people know? “I’m an April fool!”

What do you enjoy most about your job? “The variation and excitement of every flight, not knowing where or to what type of incident you will be dispatched next.  Flying new and modern machines.  The diversity and challenges of the rescue environment. Working with professional and highly skilled personnel.  Spending every night at home.”

What is on your bedside table? “The Bible, Icarus by Deon Meyer and a variety of outdoor, 4x4 and financial magazines.”

If you could have dinner with five famous people from history, who would they be? “I have had the privilege to be invited to Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel’s house in Maputo for lunch in 2000 and have been to Mandela’s house in Qunu in the Transkei where I met his extended family.  I have also had the privileged to do the tour of Robben Island prison with Nelson Mandela as our personal tour guide.  It was always a pleasure and honor to be in the presence of Mr. Mandela – a true gentleman and ambassador for our country and its rich history.  Dinner with Obama, Trump, Mandela, Bono and Roger Federer all around the same table would be rather interesting…”

What was your first thought when you woke up this morning? “What the weather is like in George – quickly check on AeroWeather.”

What has been the happiest day of your life? “The three days my kids were born – an absolute amazing experience every time!”

If you could do any other job for just one day, what would it be? “Be a Tiger fishing guide in the Okavango Delta, Botswana.”

What is your greatest indulgence? “Having a good bottle of red wine out in nature, next to a fire, with loved ones.”

What is the one thing you can’t live without? “Cappuccino!”

What is the habit you are proudest of breaking or want to break? “Mocking Ford drivers (sorry Doc) – refer to next question…”

Best piece of advice anyone ever gave you? “If you can’t say something nice about someone, rather keep quiet.”

Any motto you live by? “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.” Nelson Mandela