WHEN your dream leads you to your desired destination, surely you are destined for success. This is what 27-year- old Naomi Phetoe – one of Mzansi’s black female pilots – says about her achievement.
She was born in Ramatlabama Village, near the border of Botswana and South Africa, in North West.
Speaking to Move!, Naomi says she had big dreams while growing up. She adds that she wanted to change her living conditions as she grew up poor.
Today, she’s proud to be in possession of a private pilot licence and working towards getting her commercial licence.
Naomi felt that education was the only way for her to get out of poverty, so she studied hard to achieve her dreams.
“I actually wanted to become a chartered accountant while I was still at Rankudu Primary School in Mahikeng. But along the way, I fell in love with the idea of being a pilot. When I was at Batswana High School, I felt that one day I would control an aircraft as I used to see flights passing over our village.
“I told my parents about my dream of becoming a pilot. My father was the sole breadwinner as my mother was unemployed. As a result, I was not sure if I would be able to achieve this dream. My father took me to Afrika Aviation Academy in Mahikeng to find out if I could enrol there. We didn’t have money to pay for the pilot training, so my father took out a loan so that I could study.”
Naomi says that she was grateful for the effort that her father made to get her enrolled at the academy. However, the fees were too costly for her family. She only spent seven months at the academy before she dropped out due to financial constraints in 2008.
“I was excited to be at the academy as i believed that my dream of being a pilot was within my reach.
But hings started going wrong when the money dried up. I was going through hell because I wanted to finish the course so badly. My father tried all he could to get me back into the academy but things were just difficult,” she recalled.
WORKING PART TIME TO FUND HER TRAINING
She tried to get a bursary but all her efforts failed. At the end, she ended up working as a dishwasher at a local restaurant. “I was in a bad place. I had to was dishes so that I could ear money to pay for my fees at the academy,” she says. My father on the other hand was paying pack the loan he had taken out to pay for my training. At the time, I was doing training for a private pilot license.”
Naomi says that things got back to normal after she was awarded a bursary by the premier’s office in Northwest. “I got back to the academy in 2009 bt that didn’t last long, One again, the funds dried up after a while and it was back to square one.
DROPPING OUT FOR THE SECOND TIME
Naomi says she felt like her world was crashing down all around her after she dropped out the second time. “Things were really bad and I felt like giving up. I had to stay at home for four years without having any plan and I was depressed. I didn’t know what to do, but my family kept on supporting me. I prayed for a miracle to happen and my prayers were answers when th South African Civil Aviation Authority came to my rescue. I got funding and I had to move to Joburg to continue with my training.” she said
She enrolled at Superior Pilot Services at Grand Central Airport in Midrand. She says she had to start all over again at the new academy. “I started pushing boundaries and obtained my private pilot license. I am now working on obtaining my commercial pilot license”.
She is also engaged to another pilot, Romeo Sease, whom she regards as her pillar of strength. “I am grateful to God that He gave me a soul mate who inspires me. Romeo has taught me many things about the aviation industry.
PASSIONATE ABOUT FLYING
Naomi says her passion for flying kept her going when she was going through challenges. “I am proud of what I have achieved and happy that my perseverance has paid off,” she says, adding that her first passengers were her mom, father, and pupils from Batloung High School in North West. “I flew with my mother from Mahikeng to Grand Central Airport in Midrand, It was just the two of us. When we landed, she cried tears of joy. I also flew with my father and 12 pupils from Batloung High.”
On a parting note, she has advice for young people ho would like to join the aviation industry. “I made it, so can you. It’s all about believing in yourself and having passion to fly,” she signed off.