Traveling about 11 months per year, very often in remote areas with no communications, Stani can be difficult to contact. I will be happy to relay (Ralph@WeatherWool.com, +1 973-943-3110 mobile) your messages to Stani.
Stani Groeneweg (Greenway in English) is a full-time outdoors professional and an integral part of the Bear Grylls team. His work involves ranging and scouting remote wilderness locations for TV and film crews, with primary responsibility for Safety & Risk Control and Survival on all continents and in all environments -- from Jungles to High Mountains and from Arctic Plains to Deserts.
Highly experienced as a Wilderness Guide, International Mountain Leader and Survival, Bushcraft and Tracking Instructor, Stani has been likened to a pure wilderness man ... but what many people remember most about him is professionalism, his extreme can-do attitude and huge smile.
After 10 years in the Dutch Military, specializing in Mountaineering and Air Assault, Stani taught at world-renowned survival and outdoor schools, such as the Ray Mears Survival School, and still trains their instructors as needed. Stani has been the acting Safety Team Leader and Survival Consultant on shows including Man vs Wild, I Shouldn’t Be Alive and Primal Survivor.
Stani is the Acting Safety Team Leader (and quite a bit more) for the NBC Television Show Running Wild with Bear Grylls, but is also very dedicated to conducting regular training sessions with Anti-Poaching Rangers in Africa. Here is a quote from Stani's Instagram post of September 19, 2018: "Proud to be a part if this awesome team!! #Repost @lead_ranger. The edge of your comfort zone is where great personal award awaits. We empower the next generation of frontline conservation leaders LEAD Ranger is a collaborative initiative of @int.anti.poaching.foundation , @thingreenlinefoundation , and @rangercampus."
Stani enjoys wild foods - sea foraging, beachcombing, fishing, spearfishing and hunting, and does quite a bit of rock climbing. He can usually be found outside somewhere/anywhere; climbing, checking local waters for a swim, tracking down the whereabouts of local wildlife, or lighting fires for a brew (tea).
From Ralph: Stani's Instagram post of 18 May 2021 gives a great sense of what his work and life entail. The photo appears at left, with Stani peeking out from behind the pilot of a helicopter. This text accompanied that photo:
I have a love-hate relation ship with Helicopters. I love the thrill, the access/egress capabilities, the freedom, the skill of the pilots.
I hate to think of all that can go wrong.
Over the past decade I’ve been fortunate enough to have teamed up with extremely talented and experienced pilots. Testing and creating cool onscreen stunts or making access/egress to difficult areas possible.
Working with civilian helicopters we’ve had to figure a lot out ourselves; brainstorm sessions with the pilots and team, aviation laws, improvise rigging points, stripping the heli of all interior except the pilots seat, flying with doors off and so on.
It's a thrill as long as one has the humility to acknowledge that in the end you “hang from the sky” and the sky doesn’t make for the best fixed point for any climber or rigger.
I’ve had several near misses; engine failure resulting in emergency landings and collisions with birds. Even a failing, Chinese made, center hook system whilst having people hanging underneath (I insisted on a back up system which ultimately saved the ones underneath or their imprints would still be visible on a remote mountain range in Tibet).
The biggest reason for near misses though is complacency. Usually stemming from pressure to beat last times stunts, impatience, tight timeframes/budgets and ego’s. The more and the longer we operate these stunts and return safely, the more complacency creeps in; “nothing ever happens” or “it will be fine” are remarks heard. To me these are red flags.
How to defeat ignorance? We do not prepare for the 99.9% of the times it goes right but we prepare for the 0.1% things do not go to plan.
Agree on solid SOP’s, listen to the pilot and stay well inside his/her comfort zone as well as trust your instincts gathered with experience. Make sure kit is in good functional order and always test this. Respect all the teams input. Learn from your and others mistakes. Make sure all involved know and understand the why of the plan and what to do if things go wrong. As for those refuse to accept. I remind myself a quote by Paulo Coelho.