Welcome to Wilderness Air FAQ

Wilderness Air operates in an environment that is foreign to many people. Operations into and out of remote airstrips with blue chip foreign tourists requires pilots who are technically competent and able to communicate well with clients.

Wilderness Air is privileged to fly into some of the most pristine wilderness destinations in the world. We believe flying is an integral part of a guest's holiday experience and therefore our pilots need to have a fundamental enthusiasm for being in such areas.

Pilot Employment at Wilderness Air

We get many pilots and potential pilots enquiring about positions with Wilderness Air and asking many questions about employment with Wilderness Air. We hope this section answers all questions. Wilderness Air is an equal opportunity employer. In each of the countries where we operate our first priority and commitment is to employ citizens of the country where we operate. If we are unable to fill positions with citizen employees, we look to employ foreigners. In South Africa there is a large pool of prospective pilots, so to date we have never had reason to employ a non-South African pilot. In Botswana and Namibia, we have historically not found enough citizens to fill all the available positions. In Zimbabwe it is practically impossible for a non- citizen to obtain a work and residence permit.

Question: What minimum qualifications do I need to gain employment?

we only employ pilots with a valid commercial pilots license. An instrument rating is a distinct advantage. No pilot will progress onto our turbine aircraft without an instrument rating. All pilots must have a minimum of 250 hours of flying experience to gain employment.

Question: What is the process involved in getting employed by Wilderness Air?

No pilots are hired over the phone or the internet. All applicants must be interviewed in Maun, Windhoek or occasionally Johannesburg. We have a standard hiring process. Before any interview is given, applicants must write an exam which covers both personal and technical aspects. After an interview, applicants are normally introduced to our existing staff before a final choice is made. Finally after successful induction into Wilderness Air all pilots are trained for a minimum of 100 hours. On average this process takes 6 to eight weeks. During this time the work and residence permit applications are made and the trainee is not able to earn a salary, though Wilderness Air covers housing expenses. Of the training time 50 hours is spent in the right hand seat observing operations. 50 hours are spent in the left hand seat under the supervision of a training captain or a senior pilot. A lot of time is spent on ensuring that crew are technically competent. A lot of time is also spent ensuring that crew understand how to interact with our guests.

Question: Why should I go to Maun or Windhoek to be interviewed?

Living in Windhoek and particularly Maun is simply put different to what most applicants are used to. A visit to Maun and Windhoek is an important part for applicants to determine if they will be happy living in that environment.

Question: What is it like living in Maun?

Maun is a small town with a relatively small community. It is dry and dusty. Donkeys have right of way in the streets of Maun! There are limited shops and restaurants. There are a few sports facilities. There are no movie theatres. In winter Maun looks very barren but the temperates are pleasant (10 to 23°C) and as summer approaches Maun is incredibly hot (up to 45°C). The upside is that our pilots spend many nights (about 50%) over in the camps in the Okavango. Wilderness Air services a lot of camps so there is a lot of variety in the night stops. As the seasons change so too does the Okavango. If you enjoy being in a wilderness area, if you enjoy birding and wild life and you enjoy interacting with people you will have a good time in Maun. The Okavango is a pristine area with a very special aura. We encourage applicants to consider carefully what their interests are. If this job is only a means to an end, you will not enjoy working in this environment.

Question What is it like flying out of Maun?

Initially pilots fly the Cessna 206 for a year or two. The average sector length in a Cessna 206 is 30 minutes. However, we have a lot of sectors that are 2 minutes long. This in itself is a fantastic learning process and gives pilots a good opportunity to grow. The aircraft is not airconditioned. Flying in a Cessna 206 in the early summer months can be exhausting. The heat is oppressive, with this heat comes a degradation in aircraft performance so pilots need to pay particular attention to the loads they carry. After two years of being in a Cessna 206, it is a relief to move on to the airconditioned Cessna Caravan. Because our aircraft are small, the job of talking to guests, making them welcome and showing them the area is left to the pilot. There is virtually no IF flying in Maun. Northern Botswana is almost completely flat (3100ft). When pilots leave this environment after two to three years, many of them initially struggle with getting back into IF flying.

Question: What is it like living in Windhoek?

Windhoek is a small city. It has a lot of shops and restaurants. There are movie theatres and other forms of entertainment. There are tar roads out of town so it is relatively easy to drive to places such as Swakopmund. Pilots based in Windhoek actually spend little time in Windhoek. Namibia is a big country and it is expensive to reposition aircraft empty unless there is a good reason to do so. We also have some trips where pilots are expected to host as well as pilot clients. When some groups book, a pilot is allocated to their entire itinerary.

Question: What is it like flying out of Windhoek?

Initially pilots based here will fly the Cessna 210 for a year or two. The sectors are on average 1 hour 30 minutes long. In Namibia a lot more emphasis is placed on guest interaction pilots frequently spend several days with their guests. Because the sectors are longer, planes can climb higher so the heat is not as noticeable as it is in Botswana. Very little IF flying happens in Namibia. There is frequently fog along the coast line, but flights are planned to  either fly below the fog, or keep clear of it.

Question: Will my license be validated, or can I convert my existing license?

Yes this can be done. It is relatively easy to do in Botswana and Namibia. New pilots must write an exam on air law, pass a flight test and pass a medical exam.

Question: What opportunities are there at Wilderness Air?

There are many different fields for pilots to pursue in aviation: many pilots go into the airlines, some go into corporate flying. Wilderness Air is principally engaged in tourism and most specifically it is mainly engaged in flying to remote eco tourist destinations. Wilderness Air is a good place to start a career in aviation and most of our pilots are at an early stage in their career development. Many pilots join us with 200 to 500 hours of flying time. In Namibia and Botswana pilots fly about 700 hours per annum. Entry pilots at Wilderness Air will fly Cessna 206's and Cessna 210's for one and more typically two years before advancing on to larger aircraft. Depending on personal performance, most pilots advance to larger aircraft such as the Cessna Caravan once they have a minimum total of 1000 hours flying experience. Wilderness Air south Africa is the only operation which operates aircraft larger than the Cessna Caravan ? the Pilatus PC12 and the Beech King Air 200. All the crew who fly these aircraft are pilots who have worked for Wilderness Air in Maun or Windhoek. Most typically these pilots have been with Wilderness Air for at least 3 years before they have joined the South African operation. Our rationale is that many charters from South Africa visit Botswana and Namibia. There is no substitute for local experience!

Question: How long would I be expected to work for Wilderness Air?

While we regard it as critical, training is an onerous process for Wilderness Air. To justify the expense we require crew to make a commitment. To this end we only look for pilots who we believe have a genuine and serious desire to fly in our environment. Our contracts seek to have pilots make the following commitments.

Question: Can I break my contract?

Yes pilots do, but this is not our preference. If we are given a few months notice it definitely helps and we encourage staff to tell us early if they want to move on to the next step in their lives. We only want a committed team of pilots working in our company so it is important that all individuals are fulfilled in their jobs. This is why we place a lot of importance on trying to employ only those pilots who we believe will work in our environment. Our tourist season peaks during the months of July through the end of October. We definitely do not like pilots to resign during this period as we have no hope of replacing them in this short period.

Question: When is the best time to visit Maun or Windhoek for a job application?

Traditionally we have hired most of our pilots in January or February before the tourist season starts. There have also been many times when we have hired in other months, if a pilot resigns from Wilderness Air in a month outside of this, we will seek to replace immediately. If we have a large intake of pilots at the same time, we are unable to train all of them simultaneously, so we might stagger the hiring process over a few months.

How well are your aircraft maintained?

Our aircraft work in a harsh environment. We are proud of our maintenance track record. Many pilots who leave us and keep in contact with us as they move onto their next jobs, comment that the maintenance they saw done was better when they were with Wilderness Air! Our aircraft are all maintained in accordance with the manufacturers requirements. At all places where we operate, we use only licensed engineers working in licensed maintenance organizations. In the aircraft that Wilderness Air owns, we never overhaul our piston engined aircraft. We only take factory remanufactured engines directly from the original manufacturer. In our turbine fleet our engines are only overhauled at Pratt and Whitney or Pratt and Whitney endorse facilities.

Question: How much time off will I get?

  • One day every seven days

  • No public or Government holidays

  • 15 days sick leave

  • 6 weeks per year annual leave

Question: What accommodation will I be provided with?

The company makes accommodations available to pilots. Accommodation is shared by the pilots housing three to four pilots per house.

Question: What other perks will I get?

The company pays 50% of the medical scheme