The sky’s the limit

2011-10-15 12:47

It’s not easy to juggle running your own business and working for an employer because that demands a lot of time and energy.

However, one very diligent Wise Ntombela has managed to perform this juggling act quite successfully.

FlySAWise took off in 2009 and provides clients with various helicopter services that include taking people to local destinations and to neighbouring countries.

Ntombela, the sole owner of FlyWiseSA, is trying to position his company in the aviation industry by offering the most affordable flying services.

FlyWiseSA operates at Germiston’s Rand Airport and Midrand’s Grand Central Airport.

Ntombela says: “We offer flights for corporate events, day charters, scenic flips, lodge transfers, international and local travels, weddings, special events, cinematography and aerial photography.”

The company also trains ordinary folks to fly helicopters.

The irony is that Ntombela does not know how to fly a helicopter. He says he hopes to learn the craft next year.
“We also train youngsters to become helicopter pilots. The training is split into two: commercial pilot training and private pilot training.”

Ntombela’s business model is simple. He leases helicopters from the National Airways Corporation, which is one of the largest general aviation companies in Africa.

“To own a company that trains young people to fly is something that is very close to my heart because tomorrow I can say I did my bit for the aviation industry,” he says.

“I am running the business in conjunction with the National Airways Corporation because the company is credible and well-recognised in the aviation industry.”

Guided by the demands of his clients, Ntombela decides on the number of temporary personnel to hire.

Ntombela at times offers flying services to patrons of Maponya Mall in Soweto during weekends at a cost of R80 for five minutes.

Ntombela aims to expand his business so that it can also train aspirant airplane pilots. It will not be a problem for him because investors are already vying to get their foot in the door of his business.

Within five years, Ntombela hopes to have acquired at least two helicopters.

“My short-term goal is to see myself owning two helicopters,” he says.

Ntombela says he will only break loose from the clutches of employment once his business can afford to pay him his salary.

He works in the marketing department of a firm based in Joburg.

He opened his business after spotting a gap in the market.

“Youngsters in the townships were not exposed to helicopter piloting. Piloting is a profession that is very far from their minds.

“What many people do not know is that one can become a helicopter pilot at the age of 16, which is two years younger than the age required for obtaining a driver’s licence,” he says.

The National Airways Corporation’s flight instructor, Vicky Sankey, says an individual can either train to become a private pilot or a commercial pilot.

“A private pilot’s licence allows you to fly as a hobby and for fun, while the commercial licence permits you to make money through flying.”

She says an individual should clock up at least 50 hours of flying instruction and sit for eight exams to obtain a private pilot’s licence.

“But to become a commercial pilot, you must fly a total of 200 hours and do another set of eight exams,” says Sankey.

The training to become a private pilot costs R170 000 while the commercial licence runs from between R400 000 and R600 000.

“The costs largely depend on the type of helicopter you use for training,” says Sankey.

“You must also be aware that flying is not cheap to go into because the helicopters are very expensive to maintain and run.”

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