Fancy a trip to Plettenberg Bay for a quick swim, lunch and back home in East London the same day? Or perhaps a business call to clients in Mthatha or Komani?
These far-off towns are just a hop, skip and a jump from East London provided you have a pilot’s licence and access to a light plane.
Situated at the East London Airport, the Border Aviation Club and Flight School has been training pilots to take to the blue skies, for many years.
A boyhood ambition to be a pilot grew to fruition for resident pilot trainer at Border Aviation, Shane Smith, 35. Smith was just six years old when he went for a joy-ride in a C130 Hercules over Pretoria, where he resided at the time. From that age he was determined to one day get his wings. His parents, however, were equally determined that his schooling came first and Smith had to complete his education before eventually gaining his pilot’s licence at the age of 20 in 2003. Today, he has over 3500 hours’ flight time to his credit. He and his wife moved to East London four years ago, and it is obvious that Smith is one man who thoroughly loves his job.
Border Aviation have a number of dual-controlled aircraft including a Cessna 150, a Cessna 172 four-seater, and the world-famous Piper Cherokee to train students to fly.
Trainee pilots need to be 16 years of age while good vision with an ability to detect colours is very important, Smith said. Successful trainees are able to get their licenses at age 17.
“All trainees will need to undergo a medical,” he said. “But this is relatively easy to pass.”
Students can either do a National Pilot Licence which requires 35 hours flight time (20 dual and 15 solo) or a Private Pilot Licence which requires 45 hours flight time (35 dual, 15 solo). Additional training in night flying is required if the pilot wishes to fly at night – this is also part of the training towards a Commercial pilot where 200 hours is a must (100 dual, 100 solo).
Border Aviation also offers advanced training in instrument flying procedures for pilots to operate in all weather conditions and they also train flight instructors.
Anyone interested in becoming a pilot can contact Liz Gous at Border Aviation on 043 7366181 or email [email protected], or call Smith at the training centre on the far side of the East London Airport.
by: Peter Martin