By Mthokozisi Dube
A Gwanda teenager, Inobubele Dube, may be taking you to the skies someday! The 19-year-old will finally realise her aviation dream after Big Time Strategic Group (BTSG) paid a whopping R500 000 for her to study towards a Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) programme at the Flight Training Services (FTS) in Midrand, South Africa.
The prohibitive cost of studying towards this course has thwarted many black children’s dreams of flying a plane.
The former Premier High School pupil could not hide her joy when Big Time CEO, Justice Maphosa — who is also from Gwanda but based in South Africa — recently told her his company was offering her a full scholarship for the programme.She said she was really grateful as her hopes were almost shattered after her parents could not afford to fund her studies in her desired aviation field.
“I’m really excited about this scholarship. I completed my high school studies in 2016 and couldn’t settle for any other course. It just had to be the Private Pilot Licence (PPL), but obviously it was a lot of money for my family to raise. So I’m grateful Big Time has made it possible,” Dube said.
For two years, after completing her Advanced Levels, she sat at home with little hope that her dream would come true.“I tried looking for a job in the retail space, but it was never fulfilling for me.”
Dube, who is also a gifted vocalist, will benefit from FTS’s combined experience of over 35 000 flying hours, obtained in the airline and general aviation sector.
The PPL, a two-year intensive course, is the first formal qualification required for the progression from dual flight (flying with an instructor) to flying solo.
“I can’t wait for my solo flight. I wish it were happening today,” said the passionate teen.
Big Time CEO, Maphosa, said it would give him joy to witness a young girl live out her passion in aviation.
“You rarely come across young black girls who are as passionate as she is about aviation. So when she approached us for a scholarship, we did not hesitate to give it to her,” said Maphosa.
In South Africa, Big Time has adopted two schools where the company is responsible for teachers’ salaries, uniforms and meals for learners.
“At Big Time, we delight in making dreams of young people come true. It’s the reason we offer bursaries to countless learners,” Maphosa said.
Dube will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Air Zimbabwe’s female pilots Captain Chipo Matimba and Elizabeth Simbi Petros. Once she completes her studies, the qualification will allow her to be Pilot in Command (PIC) of an aircraft and to carry passengers.
This will also enable her to make all decisions pertaining to planning and executing a flight during daylight hours and in clear weather. She will, however, need additional qualifications to fly at night and in cloudy conditions.
Big Time are the sponsors of the annual Gwanda Gospel Festival in which Dube featured in 2016. The company were also the main sponsors at the Harare International Carnival last year and Miss Tourism Zimbabwe. They have also made a commitment to sponsor Highlanders Football Club. The Chronicle