Almost 30 Hoërskool Nelspruit (NHS) aviation enthusiasts visited the Kishugu Aviation Training Organisation (ATO) on Friday, 07 September for an opportunity to fly sky high. NHS was the first of several high schools identified in the Mpumalanga region as part of an aviation career awareness campaign to approach schools directly and address the global pilot shortage.
The aviation industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world due to rapid growth, but it might not have the pilots available to keep up with this growth.
“To become a proficient pilot, ready to offer a valuable contribution to this dynamic field, takes time,” says Head of Kishugu ATO, Carel van der Merwe. “Amidst an ongoing wave of retirements and a steady supply of experienced crews is unlikely to be depleted. To fill this gap, the industry showed a great need for quality training academies to help train pilots for the future. And this is where Kishugu ATO, based in Mbombela, plays a vital role,” says Carel.
After the huge success of sponsoring two pupils for the Mr. and Ms. NHS campaign, word quickly spread among the scholars on the possibilities of starting a career in aviation.
During the NHS open day, students and their parents were welcomed by Carel, and his team of flight instructors, and given a quick pre-flight check before taking to the skies in one of our four aircraft available.
After touching down on the ground, Carel presented a quick informative talk on the options of obtaining your Private Pilots Licence (PPL) and the various ways the flight school could assist parents in making their child’s dream a reality.
Hannes van Zyl, HOD of FFA AMO 1116, elaborated on the various engineer maintenance careers they could specialise in, from avionics to flight test pilots , all possible when choosing a career as a Aeronautical Engineering. Many of the scholars were even interested in doing shadow work at the AMO during the upcoming school holidays. “Shadowing is the perfect opportunity for learners to get a real sense of what it would be to work on aircraft as a possible career,” says Hannes.
Jayden Joubert, a Grade 12 learner could not contain his excitement after his flight during the open day. “It was such an amazing experience. I never thought this was something I wanted to do with my life, but the flying bug has definitely bitten me,” he says. “The AMO was also very nice to see, especially how organised they were, it was very interesting to see them working on the Huey’s,” he concluded.
“Open days like these offer the best opportunity to young learners to experience exactly what flying entails and if it is a career path they would like to follow,” says Carel. “Many scholars are not always sure what they want to do after school, and experiencing this first hand helps them realise if their heart belongs in the sky.”