The GRUwing pilots are recruited from the ranks of aspiring or qualified commercial pilots with a passion for conservation flying. Their flying for GRUWing is entirely voluntary but they gain valuable experience to further their careers. We are fortunate to have the support of a seasoned ex-airforce instructor who checks our competency and apllies corrective training where required.
The three pilots who are presently on the roster have been with GRUWing from its inception in 2013. Two others have completed their ATPL exams and have moved on to paying jobs in aviation.
As of September 2018, we have provided more than 1 300 hours of air support to protected areas.
The aircraft is a JABIRU J170 kitted out with sensor ports, larger tyres and additional radio equipment. It has a 6-cylinder Jabiru Engine that has provided 1 420 faultless hours in trying conditions.
It has a stall speed of less than 40kt in landing configuration and a cruising speed that can be pushed over 120kt. At a cruisng speed of 110kt it has a range of 1 000km. We fly patrols at 70kt or less, giving us an endurance of more than 6 hours.
It has the ability to use unprepared runways and can land in 200m, taking off in 300m.