From Bush Pilots to Major Airline Pilots: An Inside Look at Flying in Africa

I’m a sucker for tv documentaries, especially those concerning aviation and airports.

Imagine you’re flying on a major airline on a longhair route. What’s the chances your pilot, now with thousands of flight hours under his belt, could have started their career in the African bush?

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For many, this is the start to a lifelong passion of aviation, and a head-start when it comes to getting hired by one of the big airlines. It provides experience, it provides hours, and it provides the basic training needed to “graduate” into the “big boy” planes.

That brings me to sharing with you this series, Bush Pilots.

[This is a] documentary following rookie pilots in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, who battle against dangerous weather and wildlife as they seek to prove their worth as aviators to the airlines they hope will employ them at the end of their training. Hazards include airstrips washed away by rain, giraffes on the runway, releasing leopards into the wild and powerful tropical storms.

Though it doesn’t feature the awe of an A380, the champagne flowing in Business Class, or the world-class operation of Heathrow, it does provide a fascinating look at flying in the African continent, and how this is a cornerstone for many pilots looking to move on to bigger and better planes.

Take a look for yourself and let me know what you think!

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  1. Tom says

    Terrific documentary…really gives you a sense of place. My wife and I flew four times on Wilderness three years ago — on some of these very routes — and we’ll be flying on Mack with my 91 year-old Mom in 20 months.

  2. Tom says

    Actually, as I’m watching, I’m realizing that we flew with one of the pilots featured in this documentary! (Graham? Graeme? Not sure of the spelling.) I remember that he was especially reassuring on a day when I was frightened by the conditions.

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