At the end of 2020, P&W’s 50,000th PT6 turboprop engine rolled off the production line. To celebrate this milestone, we wanted to highlight the aircraft and operators that take part in telling the PT6 story every day. We launched the #HowDoYouLikeMyPT6 Photo Challenge on Instagram – calling on the nation to show off their PT6-powered aircraft. To honour the participants, we’re sharing some of their flight stories. Next up in the series – Ruby Wilson.
Few people can say that seeing elephants, lions, and leopards in the wild is all in a day’s work. But for pilot Ruby Wilson, it is. Living and working in South Africa, her flights take her to some of the most incredible places in the world, like the African bushveld—a subtropical woodland that is home to rolling landscapes and rare animals.
Long before she found herself living out her dreams in the sky, Ruby would spend time in the hangar with her father, an aircraft engineer who played an influential role in her early fascination with aviation and the mechanics behind it. From handing him tools at just two years old, to starting flight training right out of school at 18 years old, the allure came at a young age, leading her to set her sights firmly on a career in aviation.
A pivotal moment in her journey came in 2010 when Ruby embarked on an unforgettable helicopter trip through the southern part of Africa. From that very moment, she knew that she wanted to learn everything she could about aviation. “The aviation bug hit hard” she says. Fast forward to today, Ruby has had the unique opportunity of freelance flying for Pro Jet Africa, based out of the Fireblade Aviation private terminal.
While she has a passion for tail draggers, her days are mostly spent flying a Cessna Caravan or a King Air 200, both powered by her favourite engine, the beloved PT6 turboprop—with which she has clocked over 1,200 flying hours. From the sound of the engine starting up to its sheer reliability, there’s no other engine she’d rather fly.
And what a way to spend her days: being in the air feeling happy and free, meeting people from all over the world, and soaring over standout destinations like Mowe Bay in Namibia where the isolated Skeleton Coast makes for some surreal views. It’s locations like these that have also given her valuable experience flying in challenging conditions that can be hot, high, and heavy.
The ability to fly is something that Ruby describes as exhilarating, and her gratitude for how far she has come reminds her of where she began. Her wise advice to anyone starting out in the aviation industry is to “never forget where you started, and be humble, always! You can learn something from another aviator no matter their experience level”.
Follow Ruby Wilson’s journey on Instagram at @iamruby.tuesday