Riaan Beekman

I was born knowing that I wanted to become a pilot one day. I started my career as a flight instructor at 43 Air School, Port Alfred and joined South African Airways (SAA) at the age of 23. I then pursued my passion for flight training and joined the training section of South African Airways in 1997. 

Today I am privileged to be the Head of Training of the SAA Domestic and Regional fleet. 

I have a passion for travel and have taken many tour groups on 4×4 overland trips.

African Aerial Safaris is a natural progression for me. It allows me to bring all my passions together: flying, people, photography, Africa and travel.


They say once the wings go on, they never come off whether they can be seen or not. It fuses to the soul. This was certainly true in my case, and the day I went on my first flight I realised I wanted to fly. At the age of 19 I became a commercial pilot and my first job was flying tourists on safari between the many lodges around Botswana and Zimbabwe. It was during this time that I discovered my second big interest in life, nature. Spending many nights per week in the different camps exposed me to the incredible beauty of Africa, and it made a lasting impression on me. As Brian Jackman wrote:

“Africa changes you forever, like nowhere on earth. Once you have been there, you will never be the same. But how do you begin to describe its magic to someone who has never felt it? How can you explain the fascination of this vast, dusty continent, whose oldest roads are elephant paths? Could it be because Africa is the place of all our beginnings, the cradle of mankind, where our species first stood upright on the savannahs of long ago?”

Through career progression I eventually moved on and further north into Africa flying for the United Nations on humanitarian flights before returning to South Africa as an airline pilot. I have been involved in airline flying for the last 12 years and currently fly the Boeing 747 for an international company. Having flown around Africa extensively and going on yearly safaris and camping trips, I have come to realise that there is no better way to experience this majestic continent and her breathtaking scenery, than by private aeroplane on your own flying adventure.