SA-born pilot uses cellphone to rescue 100 people stranded in China by Covid-19

With just his cellphone, Tertius Myburgh set up a rescue mission to help South Africans stranded in China by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image:ír Chalabala

With only a cellphone, a limited balance and a contact list, a South African pilot living in Canada was able to help more than 100 South Africans and dozens of Zimbabweans return home.

Tertius Myburgh, a commercial pilot based in New Brunswick, Canada, helped rescue South African and Zimbabwean students stranded in China for months, from the comfort of his home.

According to a CNN report, Myburgh received several messages from students who had failed to return home on the government’s first repatriation flights.

“Before Covid-19, you could just contact the Civil Aviation Authority, send your flight details and — boom — a day or two later, you have the authorisation and that’s it,” Myburgh told the publication.

According to Myburgh, it was diplomats from Zimbabwe who helped facilitate repatriation with the Chinese authorities.

Myburgh managed to rent a Boeing 767, which was used by late former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. He also managed to assemble a crew for the rescue mission.

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