Due to the number of enquiries they receive Wilderness Air has put together the following comprehensive document to assist pilots with their applications.
Wilderness Air is based in 5 regions through Southern Africa; been Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. With this in mind our priority and commitment is to employ local citizens of the countries in which we operate first and foremost. Should we not find a suitable candidate locally we are able to source foreign pilots.
The most commonly asked questions:
What are the minimum qualifications to gain employment within Wilderness Air?
We will require the following qualifications and hours:
Valid commercial pilots licence and instrument rating
A minimum of 250 hours of flying experience for applications in Zimbabwe
For Botswana applications the following flying experience is required:
500 hours total time with an instructors rating and instructors experience or
800 hours total time with a commercial pilots license
For Namibia applications the following flying experience is required:
200 hours total time for Namibians or
800 hours total time for Non-Namibians.
Cessna C172; C210; C310 and the most advantageous being the Cessna C206 and C208
An instructors rating on any of the above mentioned aircraft
What is the process of employment with Wilderness Air?All pilots are interviewed in Maun or Windhoek. We would recommend that applicants take the time to travel to one of the regions and personally hand in their CV. No applicants are hired over the internet or telephonically.
All applicants undergo a written exam covering technical and personal aspects.
Once applicants have written their assessment an interview process take place.
After the interview process applicants are introduced to the rest of the pilots and operations team before a final choice is made.
After a successful induction into Wilderness Air; pilots are required to undergo training for a further 100 hours.
The 100 hours training is broken up into 50 hours in the right hand seat observing, followed by an additional 50 hours in the left seat under supervision of a training captain or senior pilot.
This will assist new pilots in understanding the Wilderness brand and the remote areas in which we operate. On average these additional hours take between 6 – 8 weeks.
During this time work and residence permits are applied for.
Trainees are not able to earn a salary, but Wilderness Air will cover housing expenses to a certain degree.
Due to our clientele; attention is emphasized on the pilots appropriate client interaction and that the crew is technically competent.
Why should I go to Maun or Windhoek to be interviewed?
Living in Windhoek or Maun is, simply put, ‘different to what most applicants are used to”.
A visit to Maun or Windhoek is an important part for applicants to determine if they would be happy living in these environments.
What is it like living in Maun?
Maun is a small village with a relatively small community.
It is a dry and dusty village where donkeys have the right of way in streets! There are limited shops and restaurants; few sporting facilities and no movie theatres.
In winter Maun looks very barren but the temperatures are pleasant (10 to 23°C). As summer approaches, Maun becomes incredibly hot (up to 45°C).
The upside about working in Maun is that our pilots spend “ overnights “in the camps in the Okavango Delta. If you enjoy being in a wilderness area, birding, wild life and interacting with people, you will have a great time in Maun. We encourage applicants to consider carefully what their interests are.
If this job is simply a means to an end, you will not enjoy working in this environment. Married persons (especially those with small children) may find adaption to life in Maun more challenging than single people, but there are numerous happily married folk working at Wilderness Air and living in Maun.
What is it like flying out of Maun?
Initially pilots fly the Cessna 206 for on average 1 – 2 years. The average sector length in a Cessna 206 is 30 minutes. However, we have a lot of sectors that are 5 minutes long. This in itself is a fantastic learning process and gives pilots a good opportunity to grow. The aircraft are not air-conditioned and therefore flying in a Cessna 206 in the early summer months can be exhausting. The heat is oppressive and with it comes degradation in the aircraft performance, so pilots need to pay particular attention to the loads they carry.
After 2 years of being in a Cessna 206, pilots move onto the air-conditioned Cessna Caravan (C208B).
There is virtually no IF flying in Maun as Northern Botswana is almost completely flat (3100ft). When pilots leave this environment after two to three years, many of them initially find it challenging to get back into IF flying. However changes are in the pipeline with the upgrading of Maun Airport.
Because our aircraft are small, the job of interacting with our guests, making them feel welcome, comfortable and safe is left to the pilot.
What is it like living in Windhoek?
Windhoek is a small city that boasts a variety of shops, restaurants, cinemas 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 relatively little time in the city itself.
Namibia is a large country and it is expensive to reposition aircraft empty unless there is a good reason to do so. This results in the pilots “overnighting” at the camps. We also have some trips where pilots are expected to host clients as well as pilot planes. In some instances, a pilot could be allocated to an entire trip, extending over a couple of days.
What is it like flying out of Windhoek?
Initially pilots based in Windhoek will fly the Cessna 210 for on average 1 – 2 years. The sectors are on average 1hour 30 minutes. In Namibia more emphasis is placed on guests’ interaction as pilots frequently spend several days with their guests.
As the sectors are longer, planes can climb higher so the heat is not as noticeable as in Botswana. Very little IF flying happens in Namibia and although there is frequently fog along the coast line , flights are planned to either fly below the fog or keep clear of it.
Will my license be validated, or can I convert my existing license?
Yes this can be done. It is relatively easy to do in either Botswana and or Namibia. The process generally involves:
New pilots must write an air law exam
Pass a flight test
Pass a medical exam
Please bear in mind that it can take a number of weeks before the process of validation/conversion is completed.
What opportunities are there at Wilderness Air Charters?
There are many different fields for pilots to pursue in aviation. Many pilots choose airline flying and others opt for corporate flying.
Wilderness Air is principally engaged in tourism and most specifically 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 of their career development. The majority of applicants join us with 200 – 500 hours of flying time and increase this by an average of 700 hours flying time per annum in Namibia and Botswana
Depending on personal performances, most pilots advance to larger aircraft such as the C208B once they have a minimum of 1000 hours.
How long would I be expected to work for Wilderness Air?
While we regard is as critical, training is a time consuming process for our staff and assets. To justify the expense we require crew to make a commitment to the company. Wilderness Air only employs pilots who we believe have a genuine and serious desire to fly in our environment.
The following contracts are required to be signed by the pilots:
18 month contract on the C206
A potential further 18 month contract on the C208 B
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. Pilots are require to pay off their bonds on the contracts should they leave before the termination of contract.
We only want a committed team of pilots working in our organisation.
Our tourist peak season is during the months of May through to the end of October. Christmas and New Years, we experience a brief peak in business till middle of January. Any resignations during this period leave it virtually impossible to train and replace pilots at short notice.
When is the best time to visit Maun or Windhoek for a job application?
Traditionally we hire in January or February before the tourist season starts. However we have hired in other months due to pilot shortages or resignations.
How well are your aircraft maintained?
Wilderness Air is the owner of Northern Air Maintenance based in Maun. All aircraft are maintained by Northern Air Maintenance in accordance with the manufacturers’ requirements and we only use 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 approved facilities.
Many pilots who leave Wilderness Air and keep in contact comment on the high standard of our maintenance compared to other operations they find employment at elsewhere.
How much time off will I get?
One day every seven days
No public or Government holidays
15 days sick leave per annum
30 days annual leave
What accommodation will be provided?
You will be responsible for your own accommodation in Maun and Windhoek. Wilderness Air assists with accommodation arrangement for pilots when they are on an overnight stop.
A housing allowance is provided for by Wilderness Air, but generally private accommodation is shared by with other pilots.
What benefits will I get from my employment?
Wilderness Air pays 50% of the local medical scheme.
For Employment enquiries, you can email the following Chief Pilots:
Botswana : Damian Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org
Namibia : Johann Geertsema email@example.com
Zambezi Region : Alex Henderson firstname.lastname@example.org
Good luck to you all!
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