When operating aircraft, it is important that all necessary flying skills are as sharp as they need to be, especially when operating in remote parks across Africa. This morning, Peace Parks Foundation’s aviation manager and chief pilot, Hannes van Wyk, is on his way to Maputo and Limpopo national parks to meet up with fixed-wing pilot Wouter Steyn and operations manager Brian Neubert to conduct flying proficiency tests. The pilot proficiency test is taken by all of Peace Parks’ pilots every six months, where specific skill sets needed to be a safe, effective pilot are reassessed.

Of course, no trip to the national parks would be complete without a quick look at wildlife and as sun rises above the horizon, Hannes is treated to a beautiful sighting of a tower of very relaxed giraffe enjoying the cool of the morning air. It’s not long until Hannes arrives at Maputo National Park’s airfield, where he meets up with Wouter who is busy inspecting the Bat Hawk.

Aircraft are routinely used in wildlife management and conservation, particularly useful in national parks as large as Maputo and Limpopo. Small planes can cover large distances in short periods of time so teams can monitor wildlife movement, perform game census, spot illegal activities such as charcoaling or plan infrastructure developments such as new roads.

With the road networks in both parks being extremely limited and the terrain challenging for even the most experienced 4×4 driver, relying on skilled pilots like Wouter and Brian is critical in protecting and managing these beautiful parks.

It’s been a long and taxing few days for Hannes conducting pilot proficiency tests in both Limpopo and Maputo national parks, and luckily for him, ends his trip with a delicious braai at Brian’s – the perfect ending to a busy couple of days!