In July 2014 I made my way to Cape Town Flying Club at Cape Town International Airport to have my first introductory flight. This was after hours of research on how to become a pilot.
In 1997 I matriculated from high school in South Africa and wanted to join the SANDF (South African National Defence Force) to become a pilot, however that application was rejected. I thought my dream to become a pilot was destroyed, as I did not have funding at the time for training. My parents could only afford to send me to college and I got a college diploma in Information Technology. I worked in IT for a good couple of years until my father became ill and passed away of rare cancer caused by the work he had done.
After his funeral I was going through his belongings and was amazed at what he had done, a man with no education had a pack of passports with virtually every country that has a harbour. I sat back and reflected on my father’s life and realised he lived his dream. This got me thinking about what am I doing to live my life and started seeking questions to answers that only I could answer.
This led me to start to look for my first flight.
A few months into my part-time training, my mom suffered from a heart attack after which I decided that I would take off six months to spend with her to help her until she recovered. This, however, became 9 months then the school I was training at ran into problems, resulting in the suspension of their training licence. At the time, I was struggling with exams.
At the end of 2016 I returned to flight and in March 2017 my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and again my flying stopped by choice. My mom passed away in July 2017 but then I had to face a further setback. My previously passed exam expired and I was sitting close to 30hrs without going solo.
I sat down with my CFI, and we decided to change my game plan and let those exams elapse. A month after my exam lapsed I wrote my first exam which I passed the first time around and the next few exams.
My return to training in 2018, saw a dramatic change in my training schedule. I now schedule training flights for more than twice a week and living in Cape Town, the weather is very unpredictable but the training is consistently more.
The biggest lesson I learnt about flight training as a student is that part-time training requires a lot of commitment. The more often I fly, the more I can improve my skills.
I am a lot more involved in the training centre where I am. I am the duty pilot on weekends and have learnt so much from my fellow pilots and students. Even motivating some of the newer pilots who have started with their training.
Seeking help, giving help and sharing, help achieve the goals you had as a child, realising your weaknesses and turning them into a strength is very important.
That is my little advice from a student pilot to future student pilots.