Hard work earned pilot his wings

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

DE­TER­MI­NA­TION proved to be the se­cret in­gre­di­ent in the suc­cess of Zondo.

Bahle Zondo’s pas­sion for fly­ing pro­pelled him to great heights. From a young age, Zondo knew that he was born to fly.

The 38-year-old was born into a less priv­i­leged house­hold in ru­ral uMsinga. He dropped out of school in Grade 11 and made his way to Jo­han­nes­burg to find em­ploy­ment.

The move proved to be a pos­i­tive one and he man­aged to com­plete his ma­tric within two years, at­tend­ing school af­ter hours, while work­ing days in a fac­tory.

To­day, Zondo is still based in Jo­han­nes­burg but his life is very dif­fer­ent to when he first ar­rived in the city.

As the proud owner of four he­li­copters, he is fly­ing high!

Af­ter ma­tric­u­lat­ing, Zondo se­cured a bet­ter po­si­tion at an in­sur­ance com­pany.

“While l was work­ing there, l met a guy who in­sured an air­craft,” said Zondo.

This en­counter was to change his des­tiny.

One day, the man took Zondo with him to test an aero­plane. “When l saw him op­er­at­ing the ma­chine, it be­came clear this was what I wanted to do,” he said.

Af­ter two years of sav­ing, he en­rolled at Midrand’s Grand Cen­tral Air­port for train­ing and ob­tained a stu­dent pilot's li­cence which al­lowed him to fly un­der the su­per­vi­sion of an in­struc­tor.

Soon, he achieved his pri­vate pilot's li­cence which al­lowed him to fly pri­vate air­craft, and then his com­mer­cial pilot li­cence.

“Get­ting a li­cence is not easy be­cause you have to at­tend the­o­ret­i­cal classes and do prac­ti­cal train­ing. To qual­ify for each li­cence, you have to fin­ish your stip­u­lated fly­ing hours which is ex­pen­sive be­cause you pay per hour,” he ex­plained.

“A med­i­cal as­sess­ment also has to be passed and every three months, you have to fly with an in­struc­tor to de­ter­mine if you are still do­ing things by the book,” he said.

Be­fore branch­ing out on his own, Zondo worked for British Air­ways in Am­s­ter­dam.

To­day he owns and pi­lots his own he­li­copters, which are avail­able for a va­ri­ety of jobs.

“I have a he­li­copter work­ing in Su­dan this month, help­ing to track stolen cars. Peo­ple also hire me if they have func­tions such as wed­dings,” he said.

Zondo said young­sters who want to en­ter the avi­a­tion sec­tor must work hard and ob­tain good re­sults, es­pe­cially in maths, sci­ence and ge­og­ra­phy.

High fly­ing pilot worked hard to earn his wings.

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