Corkman flies celebs on safari in Botswana

As he continues his series of interviews with Cork people living abroad, TIMOTHY O’MAHONY talks to Diarmuid O’Regan, from Donoughmore, who is living in Maun, Botswana
Corkman flies celebs on safari in Botswana

Diarmuid O’Regan, from Donoughmore, right, who flies with Mack Air in Botswana, with colleagues, Jessie Burke and Ian Chamberlain. Diarmuid went to school at Farranferris Secondary School on Redemption Road

FROM a small village outside of Blarney called Donoughmore, Diarmuid O’Regan is currently living in Maun, Botswana in Southern Africa.

Maun is a small town in the northern part of Botswana which is known as the gateway to the Okavango Delta. Tourists from all over the world fly into Maun International Airport and then fly onwards in single engine planes into the safari Lodges.

“I have been living here for almost seven years and am currently working for a charter company called Mack Air, which is one of the oldest charter company’s in Botswana,” said Diarmuid. “We operate a fleet of 17 Cessan Caravans and one Cessna Citation Jet.

“Before making the move to Botswana, I was flying in Canada on float planes. The work in Canada was similar to my work in Maun, which entails flying tourists out to remote fishing lodges. The only problem with Canada is the bush flying is only seasonal, and although I loved working there, I wanted year round flying.

Photos taken by Diarmuid, while on safari in Botswana
Photos taken by Diarmuid, while on safari in Botswana

“I decided to move to Botswana and working here is an amazing experience. Flying over the Okavango Delta never gets old.”

As well as getting to fly all day, Diarmuid also get to experience staying in the Safari lodges when he goes on overnights. “And if we manage to get to camp early, we might be treated to a camp drive or river cruise. Although my last river cruise was a bit tense when a hippo tried to make a meal out of our engine, but thankfully we managed to get away.

“Staying in camp gives you the opportunity to meet some very interesting people from all over the world,” adds Diarmuid. “On one overnight stay I met a stunt coordinator from L.A. who had worked on a lot of the Marvel Super hero movies.

“On average, we will fly five to six hours a day all across the Okavango Delta, and occasionally make charter flights to Zimbabwe, Zambia or South Africa.

“The Victoria Falls flight is one we all look forward to as it offers an opportunity to fly over them, which is amazing to see from the air.

“If you’re lucky you might manage to get an overnight in Victoria Falls, which is a lot of fun as there is so much to do there.

“One of my most memorable experiences was flying a charter flight to Victoria Falls and then we were able to spend the rest of the afternoon touring the there. After seeing the water, fall we decided to try out the bungee jump over the falls which was an incredible experience.

“After dining on crocodile tail, we flew back to Maun for the night.

MEETING FAMOUS PEOPLE

IS PART OF THE JOB

“We fly people from all across the world and occasionally are lucky enough to meet some celebrities,” says Diarmuid.

Diarmuid O’Regan, from Donoughmore, flies people from all over the world across the Okavango Delta - a lush animal habitat in Botswana.
Diarmuid O’Regan, from Donoughmore, flies people from all over the world across the Okavango Delta - a lush animal habitat in Botswana.

“Two years ago, I was lucky enough to get to fly Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta Jones out into the Delta. We also had Tom Hardy fly with us for a scenic fight over the Delta.

“Apart from flying tourists, we also do supply flights out to the lodges as it is the only way for the lodges to get the goods they need as there are not many roads in the Delta.

MY WORKING DAY

“On an average day at work for me, I will normally wake up around 5.30am if I’m doing the morning schedule. I’ll head to the office to check the weather reports and prepare the aircraft, making sure it has the correct amount of fuel and that the aircraft does not exceed its maximum take-off weight, before heading out to the apron to pre-flight the aircraft and make sure it is safe to fly.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE JOB

“One of my favourite flights to do here is a scenic flight as we get to fly through the Delta at just over 500ft from the ground, which is amazing. It never gets boring. One of the most memorable things I managed to see from a scenic flight was a pride of lions attacking and bringing down a hippo after they had cornered it when it had left the safety of the water.”

WHAT I MISS ABOUT CORK...

“As much as I love the work and living here, there are a lot of things I miss from back home in Cork,” said Diarmuid

“One of the things I miss the most would be dropping by Sober Lane or Electric with my friends for a few drinks.

Stunning aerial views during one of Diarmuid’s flights over the Delta.
Stunning aerial views during one of Diarmuid’s flights over the Delta.

“I definitely miss a full Irish breakfast and getting to watch hurling or Gaelic football, which isn’t shown down here.

“If I was to get back to Cork for a day, the first thing I would do would be head to the nearest McDonalds for a Big Mac, than head to Sober Lane for a pint of Guinness. I’m looking forward over the next few months to travelling back to Ireland to see family and friends and hopefully get some surfing in Clonakilty.”

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