Future pilots learn tricks of the trade

A rare sight to see the South African Navy helicopter at the Morningstar Airfield.

Scores of future pilots from schools all over Cape Town visited Morningstar Airfield at the weekend to experience and learn about aviation.

The Sky’s the Limit Initiative is a joint venture with the Western Cape Microlight Club and the Sakhikamva Foundation, a non-profit that helps young people get involved in aviation.

The youngsters saw how aircraft are assembled and serviced, and pilots took them up for flips throughout the day in light aircraft and a helicopter.

SakhikamvaFoundation founder, Fatima Jakoet, said it was important for the pupils to experience aviation at a young age, and that was why she had started the foundation.

As a former student pilot herself, she knows that the cost involved in getting a pilot’s licence puts it out of reach for many.

“Flying is still seen as a luxury by some and a luxury that only the privileged can enter. I thought that if we had an organisation that would support in developing their skills exposing them to aviation and the aerospace industry, that would be half of the battle won,” said Ms Jakoet.

Arnold Mauritz, Alexander Villette and Drew Joseph are pilots and members of the Sakhikamva Foundation. They received their private pilot licences (PPL) with the help of the microlight club.

Ross Leighton, the club’s chairman, said flying should not only be an exclusive sport for the wealthy.

“There should be government grants and more companies or organisations willing to help kids that want to get into aviation. We want to get our country to a place where it is normal for a kid to grow up and want to be a pilot and for that to be a dream that is possible,” said Mr Leighton.

Mr Mauritz told Tabletalk that his involvement with the Sakhikamva Foundation had started with a helicopter ride.

“When I was 12 years old, I was fortunate enough to go on a helicopter ride, much like these kids here today, and that sparked my interest in flying. I was fortunate enough to receive a PPL scholarship through the microlight club and the Sakhikamva Foundation.”

Alexander Villttte got his scholarship the same way. He said it was great to see children from all backgrounds could now enter the world of aviation.

“Flying is not just for a selected few or a certain group of people. Nowadays, anyone can fly and become a pilot no matter what background you come from.” Drew Joseph said without landing a scholarship he would never have been able to learn to fly.

“Now that I have got my PPL, the next step is to build my hours and work my way into trying to get my commercial license,” he said.