I came across Danie when I was browsing through his Instagram (our instagram is filled with reposts from you awesome people) and his photos flying a C206 In Guyana, South America. I haven’t interviewed anyone who has flown there so I thought it would be interesting to find out how he ended up there.
He currently flies the Cessna Grand Caravan in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania for Fly Safari Airlink. I’m sure you have had enough of me blabbering away, here’s our standard 5 questions we ask out featured Bush Pilots.
What would be your number one piece of advice for aspiring bush pilots starting out in the industry?
Fly your plane, no matter what situation you find yourself in good or bad, never stop flying your plane. As soon as you lose focus even for a few seconds during critical operations, you start getting behind the aircraft, that’s when mistakes happen.
Know your own limits and that of your aircraft, if it doesn’t feel good, go around, no need to be a hero.
Fly outside, there is no need to keep looking at your instruments during VFR, enjoy the view.
What was the route you took to becoming the Bush Pilot you are today?
I grew up on a Game farm in South Africa. That is where my love for the bush grew into what it is today. I was very privileged to be introduced into aviation at an early age by my dad.
My first job was flying a C210 and Eclipse 500 for a company in my hometown. It was good, they gave me amazing opportunities but I belonged in the bush. Flying from city to city just didn’t do it for me any longer.
One night I was searching bush jobs on the internet when I came across an ad for a C206 position in Guyana, South America (Kanuku Tours – out of business now). I was a bit hesitant initially but ended up applying. The following day we had a Skype interview, and a week later I had my first flight over the Amazon. What ensued was the best two and a half years of my life.
What would you say is the hardest thing about being a Bush Pilot?
You will not always be based in the best cities and countries, but stick it through. The reward at the end is without a doubt worth it. The flying itself is easy.
How did you manage to get the job you’re currently at?
I was very lucky, I had just arrived in Namibia, was there for about a month flying the C210 out of Swakopmund. When I received an email from the chief pilot inviting me to Tanzania. Needless to say 2 days later I was on a plane back to SA to do my type rating on the C208 before coming to Dar Es Salaam, where I am currently based.
The first month and a half here was spent doing my route training and getting my license converted, before being released on the Van
What has been your number one memory about flying?
Shuttling missions out of Venezuela. I used to shuttle a C206 from a strip deep in the jungle on the banks of the Rio Cuyuni River, separating Guyana and Venezuela. The strip itself wasn’t too bad 1600ft surrounded by 100ft trees, one way in one way out to avoid flying over the Venezuelan army camp that looks straight down the center line from across the river.
Mostly cargo, 55gal drums of diesel and gasoline flown into 800-1000ft jungle strips to supply the mining operations in Guyana. That was where I learned how to really fly a plane. It was extremely intense but probably the most addictive thing I have ever done.
Currently I am flying a Caravan in Tanzania, it is amazing the scenery and places we get to see is just out of this world.
If you enjoyed this interview there are a couple more with an ex Wilderness Air Botswana & Namibia pilot, an ex Susi air pilot and another with the author of the book, “Flying the Knife edge” (affiliate link)
All photos were taken by Danie