British Airways first officer Noni Radebe is a groundbreaker in a field where few women have made their mark.
Radebe said her choice to venture into aviation was inspired at a young age and took flight right after high school.
“I always had an interest in flying aeroplanes,” she said. “But my curiosity grew when I listened to a pilot speaking on radio about his career … that is when I really started researching about it.
“I started studying towards becoming a pilot straight after matric and I am still amazed. When I started reading more about aviation and careers in the airline industry, there was just no other option.
“I had already applied for studies in the financial/accounting field, but I soon realised after doing some job shadowing that it was not for me. That is when I started entertaining the idea of my then fantasy of being a pilot flying high in the sky.
“And with confidence, I can say that the fantasy is now reality.”
As one of South Africa’s few female commercial airline pilots, Radebe is also one of a select few flying the Boeing 777, something she says came about sooner than she had thought.
“Last year, I began working for Comair, which flies kulula and British Airways, operated by Comair,” she said. “When Captain Sean Pepper called to say I got the job, I remember thinking: the dream was not so far-fetched, because now I am flying Boeings.”
Radebe’s advice to young women: “There is no dream that is beyond your reach. Learning to be a professional pilot takes a lot of time and dedication … give it your best shot and remember to enjoy it always.”
– Citizen reporter