Destination…The Sky, A Reneilwe Story

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Whoever said a woman’s place is in the kitchen, must be turning in their grave. Because this woman’s place is in the sky and no, not as an air hostess and that no diss to them. Gents, honestly aviation has never looked this good and makes one just wanna fly for no reason just to catch a glimpse of pilot, Reneilwe Sehlake.
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Being a pilot is not a career that’s on people’s mind, I mean, when you mention career paths, many will tell you that they want to be DJs, doctors, lawyers, etc., but you hardly get to hear people say they want a career in the sky. It took a family trip to Namibia for Reni to cement the idea that the sky will be her home. She knew from an early age that an office job wasn’t her thing and with her love for adventure, being a pilot was a match made in heaven for her. We sat down with this young pilot to find out what drives and motivates her.

BM: What was your favourite thing to do during your teenage years?
Reni: My favourite thing to do was playing field hockey with my teammates who were also my friends. It was kind of a bonding session, every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday…Then Saturdays would be game time.

BM: Why a career in the sky?
Reni: Haha why not?! As a child I’ve always been outgoing and hyperactive, thus I’ve never envisioned my life working in an office. My parents said I should pick something I’m passionate about. I thought to myself I enjoy traveling, being in a different environment, seeing new things and being adventurous. That’s when I decided to be a pilot, the adventure is in flying the plane and the different environment is my destination.

BM: How did you feel flying your first plane?
Reni: I was extremely excited there was no room for nerves! I couldn’t believe my eyes, flying a plane felt like nothing more than a dream and to see my dreams turn into goals and come true right before my eyes was just breath taking. I even had to give myself a pep talk, “Reni this is really happening calm down, it’s a first of many flights to come”
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BM: How tough was the training?
Reni: Training was and still is extremely tough, I mean our pass mark is 75% not even 74% gets you through. That’s where passion comes in, if you’re passionate about what you do then you’ll be more than willing to put in the work required and more.

BM: How often do you fly say in a week?
Reni: As often as I can, can’t really put a number on it .Obviously I fly light aircrafts therefore weather plays a role in whether I fly or not, If I’m sick (you can’t fly if you have flu/fatigue etc) and as well as when my theoretical exams are booked.

BM: What’s it like lifting that plane off the ground and suddenly you in the clouds?
Reni: I honestly find flying a plane therapeutic, the second the wheels lift off the ground you feel in control. The view is just aspiring most especially during sunrise, sunset and at night. You learn to appreciate the beauty of life even more!

BM: What’s a day like in the life of a pilot?
Reni: Everything is about aviation from Monday to Monday. If I’m not studying or flying then I’m spending quality time with my family and sometimes with friends.

BM: How long have you been a pilot and what was the duration of your studying to be one?
Reni: I’m currently a Private Pilot, I’ve been a qualified Private Pilot for 11 Months now. It took me 9 months of studying. Now I’m currently working on my Commercial Pilot license.

BM: What do you get up to in your pastime?
Reni: Family! Family! Family! haha I’m always home when I’m not at the airport or church. Probably just watching television.

BM: What is your fav drink?
Reni: I have two favourite drinks, passion fruit and lemonade and peach ice tea(Lipton)

BM: Do you change after a few drinks, like maybe dance on tables…? –
Reni: Haha nope, I’m adventurous in other aspects but not alcohol.

BM: What’s your ideal turn up?
Reni: Uhm playing board games with friends or family.

BM: Are you into sport…if so what team or teams do you support?
Reni: I’ve only been into Hockey when i was in primary and high school, I wouldn’t say I’m into any sport.

BM: You said you are a private pilot – isn’t that where the money is say compared to commercial?
Reni: When you’re just a Private Pilot license holder, you can’t charge people for flying them. You’re flying for hours, in order to get paid you need to have a CPL (commercial pilot license) then you can choose if you’re going to fly for an Airline (obviously with the required amount of hours) or be a Private pilot honestly the money is on either one, but mostly on the Private Pilot when you’re flying for the right people. I currently have a private pilot license (PPL) and I’m working on my CPL.

BM: What can you say to someone reading this who wants to be where you are but doesn’t know the
ropes…what to study, where to apply, just a bit of guidance…
Reni: The advice I’d give people who want to take part in this career path is to have matric with physical sciences, maths, English and a pass rate 55% to be safe. Applying for the air force and bursary is the cheapest and best way to go as flight schools are extremely expensive. With the air force you also have some form of chance in not being unemployed after your studies unlike the flight school route you don’t have a guarantee. If anyone is to apply to a flight school they must make extremely sure and do research on the flight school to make sure it’s legitimate and not a fly-by-night, also take it upon themselves to go see the flight school and its facilities.

BM: Any last words for the peeps out there?
Reni: Yes, just to motivate people what gets me going is knowing that, I can’t fail without my cooperation, but also can’t succeed without my participation. Put no limits to your dreams because If your dreams don’t terrify you then your dreams aren’t big enough! Mostly do something you’re passionate about cause you’ll be more than willing to put in the work required and more, surly money will follow.

There you have it ladies and gents, in today’s world not even the sky is the limit.

  • Arnold Chizunza

    WOW. Very inspirational. Thank you. Every young girl child should read this.