This Bush Pilot interview is about a man who has seen the most remote places in Africa. From Zimbabwe for 22 years to Congo for 10. Jon Cadd has seen it all. Jon Cadd is another example of a westerner falling in love with Africa and never leaving.
He has flown mainly for Mission Aviation Fellowship in Africa, the Pacific and the States. Here’s what you really want to know, the 5 questions we ask all our Bush Pilots.
What would be your number one piece of advice for an aspiring bush pilot starting out in the industry?
Enjoy the process. You never stop learning and it is all good. Know your limitations and let them grow with great training.
Rookies teach rookies how to be rookies.
There are techniques that will keep you alive. I am continually grateful for superb training in MAF and own a long accident free career to that and the grace of God. Slowing down gives you a chance to make the best decision. 80/20. 80 miles an hour and 20 of flaps for tight situations in terrain.
What was the route you took to becoming the bush pilot you are today?
I grew up in the Philippines and watched great bush pilots from Mission Aviation Fellowship at work and wanted to be like them. All my focus was on that. MAF requirements are harsh and I am not the most technical person in the world, but if you are really committed to something, there is usually a way to make it happen. I did a lot of flying jobs from Flying parachute jumpers to traffic watch over Portland and flew in Micronesia before finally getting to fly with MAF.
What would you say is the hardest thing about being a bush pilot?
Lots of change. If you like the same thing all the time get a different job. Combined challenges of the flying environment of bad airstrips, unusual obstructions, terrain, weather variations and even politics and violence all conspire to distract you from your mission and a safe outcome. But that is also the great fun of it. I have never been bored in this job.
How did you manage to get the job you’re currently at?
After a few years in Micronesia flying Evangel, Dorniers and Beech 18’s and a few more on the Rogue River in Oregon flying Super Cub and 206’s, I applied with MAF. I when through their long evaluation and orientation process, (which has saved my bacon more times than I can say). For the last 35 years I have been flying Africa. Based in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Uganda, Congo. It has been a blast.
What has been your number one memory about flying?
To compress a lifetime into a single memory is a difficult thing. A Rush of strong images flash in at once so it is more of a tapestry memory. Bullets hitting the side of the plane hitting one of my passengers, elephants stepping in front of the plane as I was taking off, flying into a wall of weather and riding the up and downdrafts of a typhoon for an hour before popping out in the center of it with the destination little island right in the middle of the storm. A pod full of goats or turkeys or a body. Fuel gauge knocking on empty and no idea where some land is over the Pacific with no such thing as GPS. The joy of bringing the food that is keeping refugee kids alive or a medic flight that saves someones life. Sorry, can’t choose one.