A couple in their 60s, named only and Peter and Mary, were carrying out their first anti-rhino poaching patrol when it happened. Peter was piloting the Bat Hawk aircraft when it suddenly crashed into a zip line near the Sun City Resort in South Africa.

The plane was left hanging on its back from the zip line after the propeller got caught in the metal cable, 330 feet in the air, which runs up a mountain. The terrified couple was spectacularly rescued by a mountain guide after he spotted their predicament.

Crashed plane spotted by mountain guide

As reported by the Daily Mail, Rob Thomas, 51, spotted the plane hanging precariously from the zip wire and swaying in the wind.

It was established the plane was caught by its propeller on the theme park cable. The zip wire takes visitors on a thrill ride at speeds of 100 miles per hour over the Sun City Resort, 126 miles from Johannesburg.

Thomas flew over the scene in a police helicopter and soon realized there would be no chance of a rescue from above, as the blast from the helicopter’s rotors would have dislodged the plane, sending the couple plummeting to their deaths on the ground.

Rescuer climbs down zip line to the plane

Thomas told the local press that he had volunteered as the “dope on a rope” to rescue the couple from the plane. Thomas had spoken to Peter and Mary prior to the rescue letting them know that he was coming for them and telling them to keep still and to not panic.

He then climbed down the zip line to the plane and opened the cockpit door. After opening the door, Thomas attached a harness to Peter and Mary to help them get out of the plane alive.

As reported by the Mirror Online, Thomas said he had no idea why the plane didn’t fall to the ground but discovered that luckily a large nut underneath the propeller had hooked onto the zip line.

As he climbed down the zip line towards the plane, he was terrified that his movement might dislodge the plane, as the wind was getting strong at the time. He decided to wait until the wind had died down a little before continuing with the rescue.

Once there, he found they were both wearing their safety harnesses and were lying on their backs.

Thomas said they were both terrified as they had already spent many hours in their precarious position, while winds constantly buffeted the plane. On top of this, the temperatures were very high in the area, meaning the couple both suffered from dehydration.

Rescuer attaches safety harnesses to the couple

Peter told Thomas to first rescue his wife Mary, but he said it was too dangerous, as he was the one closest to the door and he couldn’t get her out until he rescued the pilot. He went on to tell them both to unlock their safety harnesses and to trust him. Thomas then passed Peter an extraction harness, attaching it to a trolley on the zip wire itself. He then asked Peter to get out, following which he passed an extraction harness to Mary and told her the same.

Once all three of them were attached to the trolley, he asked the men at the top of the hill to pull them up.

At this stage, Thomas was concerned the plane would fall, and with their weight removed from the zip line, they might be “pinged all over the place,” which wouldn’t be pleasant. He went on to explain that the three of them were a very heavy load, so when he felt they were far enough from the plane, he lowered a rope, telling Peter to get ready to be lowered down. He did say it was unfortunate that they were at that stage over an extremely thorny bush, but luckily Peter was wearing flight gear which protected him. He then lowered Mary and luckily for her, she was blown away from the thorny bush by a gust of wind and landed comfortably.

Thomas then abseiled down to the ground and the trio started to descend the slope. However, it wasn’t pleasant for Mary to walk on the rocky terrain, as she had lost her shoes during the rescue. A police helicopter came close to them, lowering a harness for Mary, who was taken up safely. However, the wind was getting even stronger at that stage, so Thomas and Peter decided to continue to walk down and meet her at the ambulances that had arrived on the scene.

Anti-poaching in the Pilanesberg National Park

Thomas said he found out the couple had been involved in an anti-poaching patrol in the Pilanesberg National Park, volunteering to help protect their rhinos. He assumed the couple was unaware of the zip wire at Sun City that comes down from the mountain.

Thomas closed by saying that had been incredibly lucky to escape from the plane and once the plane was dislodged and retrieved it seemed there was very little damage done. A spokesman for the Pilanesberg National Park said Peter and Mary were rescued without injury but were in shock. They added their Bat Hawk plane, named Mafolodi, was soon rescued too.

The Daily Mail reports that a similar crash in 2011 left Arie Neven, 52, dead after his Bell Jet Range 206 aircraft flew into the same zip wire. Neven had been on his way to collect friends from a farm near Sun City.