Rose-Ann Gorata Mabiza
Wilderness Air Botswana Pilot
Rose Mabiza was born in Lobatse in southern Botswana and began her education there, before moving with her family to the capital city of Gaborone. In her fifth year of high school, her mother became her sole guardian and having such a strong female role model inspired her to challenge preconceptions about the appropriate education and training for a young Motswana lady.
It was however her uncle who inspired Rose to become a pilot and she began her flight training in 2016 – one of just 15 students in the inaugural class at a start-up flying school called International Aviation Solutions (IAS – Aviation Academy). Rose and her peers (all of whom were men) were thus both pioneers and ‘guinea pigs’.
The path to getting her wings was not quite as smooth as the landings that Rose now executes daily. Typically, it takes a little under two years to complete training up to commercial pilot level but as this was a new school, and uncharted territory for Botswana’s aviation industry, a few extra months were required to overcome the occasional setbacks and delays. In the end a grand ceremony was held to celebrate the graduation of Botswana’s first locally-trained commercial pilots – including Rose.
Immediately after her graduation, she packed her bags and headed to Maun (the unofficial capital of Botswana’s ecotourism industry and headquarters of Wilderness Safaris Botswana) to look for work. After a number of interviews, theory exams and flight tests, Rose received a job offer from Wilderness Air and was cleared for take-off. And so it was that in May 2016, she made her first flight with the skimmer-inspired logo of Wilderness Air on her uniform.
Rose greatly enjoys flying in and around the Okavango Delta; from the different people she meets to seeing the safari camps, the views and having that overall Wilderness experience. She especially enjoys the cosmopolitan ambience at Wilderness Air, where pilots, ground crew and managers come from many walks of life, all having travelled different routes before landing in Maun.
Rose cites the company’s team spirit and the willingness of every Wilderness Air employee to help each other to grow, not just as aviators but as individuals, as one of the most rewarding aspects of her role. Rose is a great inspiration to other local women interested in becoming pilots and has helped to raise the expectations of Motswana women in the workplace. She has also helped connect a great many of Wilderness Safaris guests to its camps, and is a valued member of the Wilderness Air team in Botswana.