Roy Wilford

Chief Pilot – Delta Air Botswana

I am originally from New Zealand.  After nearly a decade in IT I decided to pursue a career in Aviation.  I went back to University to complete a degree in Aviation majoring in Airline Transport Pilot with post grad in Aviation Management and Aircrash Investigation.  I have been flying for many years.

I decided to come to Botswana after recommendations from colleagues already working there, and I instantly fell in love with the place.  I am now into my 8th year and have thousands of hours of flying experience in Botswana.

I am ideally suited as Chief Pilot with my background in Aviation Management and many years of flying experience.

Botswana can offer something to Safari goers that is a bit special – The Okavango Delta, the only inland delta in the world and a beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert.  It is certainly unique.  Guests can both view game and marvel at the spectacle that is the Okavango Delta.  For game viewers all animals from the tiny duiker to the mighty elephant to the endangered rhino are on offer.  For those who simply want to relax and unwind there are plenty of spots to park off and listen to bird life while soaking up some sun.

Aside from the majestic beauty of the Okavango Delta, it is the people of Botswana who make any safari truly memorable.  They are warm, open people with a great sense of humour who truly enjoy sharing their wonderful country and all it has to offer.  Every camp, lodge and hotel has a comment book for guests, they are full of praise for the staff and often heartfelt messages to guides, managers, pilots, cooks and general staff.  I often read these books for my own enjoyment, it adds value and satisfaction to my job.  Without a doubt it is the people of Botswana that make every visit special.

As a pilot I have been afforded the luxury of staying at most of the camps and lodges that Botswana has to offer.  In my opinion Oddballs is the best place in Botswana, it has to be the most relaxing and tranquil place on the planet.  The staff are incredible, they go beyond being friendly to treating guests as though they are family.  It is the pilots favourite and one of the reasons why I fell in love with Botswana.

I have often been told by guests that I have the best job in the world.


Keith Simmonds

Pilot – Delta Air Botswana

Where are you from?
My family are from Zimbabwe however I was born in Cape Town South Africa and after one month old my family moved to Mauritius where we lived for 9 and the moved again to Singapore where I lived for 10 years studying in Australian, American and British International schools. I then moved back to South Africa for 4 years where I studied in university and then at 43 Air School to become a pilot and have now lived in Botswana for 4 years.

How long have you been flying?
I began my pilot’s license in 2007 but have been flying aircraft since I was a child as aviation is my family business; I am the ninth pilot in my family.

How long have you been flying in Botswana?
I have been employed by Delta Air since August 2011.

What is your specialism?
I am a Line Pilot and the Safety Officer for Delta Air.

What made you choose Botswana?
Growing up I have listened to many of my father’s stories about Africa and the African bush; I have always wanted to return to Africa and find stories of my own as the African wildlife and landscape are where I feel most at home. During my training in South Africa I was required to fly across the South African border into another country, I fortunately myself and my friends chose to fly to Maun Botswana. I quickly realised this was exactly what I had been looking for and thus as soon as my training had finished, I flew to Maun to look for work.

Why should people choose Botswana for an African Safari?
Botswana is an extremely diverse land which has everything someone looking for an African experience is looking for. The Okavango Delta stunning from every angle and is flooded with wild life ranging from enormous Elephant population to the endangered wild dog; Further south is the Kalahari, a rich desert filled with Lions, Eland, Oryx and many other animals with all the knowledge there is to learn about them taught to the traveller by resident bushman.

From your point of view what do visitors enjoy about Botswana?
Peaceful freedom in a relaxing environment.

What is your favourite spot in Botswana?
Along the Boro river just outside of Maun in the Okavango Delta is a large sandbank which I travel by boat to on my day off; it allows me to disappear from civilization with friends and family and relax.