Tafadzwa Charles Nyakudya- Winner of the Keep flying scholarship
id afternoon of December the 17th 2003, I got ready to move. The most exciting thing about the day was that I would for the very first time in my life, climb into an aircraft and fly to the start of my new life with my family. Little did I know that this day would change my life forever. As I walked up to the aircraft it simply took me a while to comprehend what I was seeing up close. We boarded the aircraft and took our seats while I looked at everything with renewed light.
The flight was slightly bumpy in the hot Botswana summer and my nerves crept up as the aircraft jumped around in the air. The air hostess came walking down the aisle to make sure everyone was comfortable and alright. I took this opportunity to ask if I could be allowed to see inside the cockpit. She politely informed me that I could not due to safety reasons but she would ask the captain for permission once the aircraft landed. To my delight the Captain agreed to this.
Once the aircraft kissed the ground, my spirit soared with the overwhelming sensation of what was all happening and what was about to happen. The aircraft stopped and I could not wait to get out of my seat and meet the Captain. Walking down toward the cockpit I felt as if I was in a movie and all the lights from the instruments lit up this tiny room where the whole aircraft was controlled. I thought about what to ask and say to the captain eliminating all the stupid questions that came on my mind. As I entered the room, the first thing that came out of my mouth was “Wooooow!” As we conversed, all the information he gave me seemed to fly over my head, but I remember what aircraft it was, an ATR 42-500. This event was the start of my passion for aviation.
After the conversation, I then set out to find how I would be able to gain my very own wings. A friend of mine’s mother was an air hostess for Air Zimbabwe and I asked her where I could train to be a pilot. She gave me very detailed information as she could tell that the flying fever was burning inside of me. I then sat my parents down and broke the news to them, I wanted to fly NOW! I was only 16 at the time and my parents had high hopes that I would attend University after leaving advanced high school.
During my wait to finish school I explored all the avenues that where suggested and received both positive and negative feedback. This one person even said I would never fly, but none the less that would never stop me. They told Albert Einstein in school that he could not do math… we all know how that ended.
In February 2007, I started my flight training at Charles Prince Airport (FVCP) situated on the outskirts of Harare. My first flight was with an Air Force Instructor, Mr. Pascal Muguti. We flew a Piper Cherokee to the General Flying Area where he showed me the skills that I would learn in Z-WFX. That was the first step toward my dream and I could feel the dream was getting closer and my passion for aviation grew even bigger.
I dedicated all my blood, sweat and tear to my training and on 17 July 2008, I had my first solo flight. As I lined up on the runway, I realized there was no instructor next me and my heart skipped a beat. I had my hand on the throttle telling myself to push it in. As I eased the throttle in, the aircraft started to move and immediately I noticed how the aircraft was much lighter as it popped into the air and off I was. The flight would have looked calm from the outside but my head was screaming at me. I then told myself “Tafadzwa Charles Nyakudya, you’ve got this, just remember what your instructor told you…now downwind check, B.U.M.P.P.F.L”. In my best pilot voice, I made my radio call for final approach and set the aircraft into its landing configuration. THIS HAD TO BE A GREASE OF A LANDING. And it was, I remember the sound of the tyres as they kissed the runway. All my fellow aviators where eagerly waiting to initiate me into the fellowship of aviation.
There after I gained my Private Pilot License and moved to South Africa where aviation was a humming hub of tin planes flying all around. I then needed to find a job to support my flight training and started to work as a flight operations cadet where I knew that opportunities could open up for me and learn even more about the industry.
A few months into the job I learned that there was an organization called SAWIA which was offering scholarships. I applied for the scholarship with lots of enthusiasm and hope and fortunately it was granted to me. The scholarship means the future to me. It will grant me the opportunity to acquire a blue South African Civil Aviation Authority Commercial Pilots License sooner than expected. After 5 years of on and off flying, I am now able to complete my training at a smoother pace. It feels as if I have conquered a mountain .With the financial help I am receiving now, the mountain seems like a hill that I can climb with ease and a smile.
Thanks to SAWIA and WAI!
My dream is to become a competent and safe airline pilot for a reputable organization. Before then, I would like to fly some charters in Africa. The thought of landing a 12500lbs aircraft on a dust strip is amazing. Given the opportunity, I would also want to have a shot at flight instruction. I believe such a line of career in aviation enhances one’s flying skills, keeps one theoretically current and gives you the satisfaction that you have successfully helped someone else achieve their dream.
My story about flying does not end here and will never end for as long as I live. I am very grateful to the support and safety net that has been granted to me. No man is an island and in the aviation industry in South Africa we are so fortunate to have Captains, Air hostesses, Flight Clubs and Flight Schools who are willing to give us the information, guidance and knowledge that this generation and many to come will need.
I can go on and on about my aspirations but at this moment I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to SAWIA, WAI, the sponsors and everyone involved for granting me the scholarship. They opened a nest that was closed and now I can walk out, spread my wings and fly into my career!
Tafadzwa Charles Nyakudya
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