Young pilot’s dreams

2008-07-11 00:00

Buti Tsebe never dreamt he would be a pilot.

In fact, the 25-year-old flight instructor planned on becoming a mining engineer at one of the mines in his hometown, Rustenburg, when he completed school.

Today, the ambitious Tsebe, who has already clocked 1 050 hours in the air, is the only black pilot participating in the House of Paint Durban Airshow this weekend.

He is part of the six-member Silver Falcons team, who will perform aerobatics and fly in formation today.

The path to being a skilled pilot was not an easy one. Tsebe spent two years unemployed before he was accepted by the South African Airforce. “My cousin forced me to fill out the application form. I did this half-heartedly as I didn’t think I stood a chance,” he says.

Out of 63 people who wrote the entrance examinations, Tsebe and two others made it through the final selection process and he began his military training in Pretoria in 2002.

Having done only standard grade mathematics in high school, Tsebe battled with maths and aeronautical science at the air force college.

“Determination and hard work helped me pass these subjects. I then went on to flying in 2003 …”

The humble pilot attributes his success to his first flight instructor, Annabel Macauley, who motivated him during his time at military school. “She was my inspiration. Even though she gave me a hard time, she helped make me a better person. Every young pilot needs an instructor like her,” he says.

Tsebe plays an important role in the team: he monitors the aircraft from the ground and communicates to the team while they are in the air.

From August, he will replace an outgoing member of the team, a dream come true for him. “I’m definitely looking forward to flying in the team. They are a great bunch who are always supporting me and motivating me to be the best,” he says.

His passion for flying is evident and this young pilot’s career looks set to soar.

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