The Cape Town Flying Club recently celebrated the occasion of their 40th year in their current premises at the Cape Town International Airport. Deputy Mayor Alderman Ian Neilson, TETA Practitioner Malcolm Alexander, Lt Col Gomez and Lt Col Kahn from Ysterplaat Airforce Base and Mayoral Committee members Alderman Vos and Felicity Purchase were some of the VIPs in attendance.
Chairman of the Club John Martin gave the opening address, while Liesl King provided the guests with a brief overview of the club’s history, the current situation the Club finds itself in amidst the Covid pandemic and the plans for the future.
King pointed out that while it may be the 40th year at the current premises, the Club’s origins date back to the pre-World War II era. Forty years ago Sir Douglas Bader opened the new premises and since then a large number of new pilots have been trained.
The current emphasis of the Club is very much on education and that such education should be available to everybody as King pointed out.
“Education is the best gift anyone can give you. It is the one thing nobody can take away from you, it opens doors to a wide world out there and it should be available to everybody.”
The club currently trains local students from a wide range of cultures and diverse socio economic backgrounds, as well as international students hailing from a number of countries. These international students spend between two and four years in South Africa, thus contributing extensively to the economy of the Western Cape.
Apart from training pilots, the club’s instructors also visit schools in order to expose learners to the possibilities of careers in the Aviation Industry as well as to encourage a love of flying from a young age.
King explained that Covid had an impact not only on the Club, but also on the Aviation Industry in general. “In the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, we have seen massive job losses worldwide. With closed borders and travel restrictions, once mighty airlines found themselves facing bankruptcy and vast numbers of jobs were shed. As the world recovers, so too will the aviation industry. We predict that in two or three years’ time, those airlines will come looking for qualified young pilots to fill the demand.”
Unfortunately, in South Africa local airlines are no longer in a position to train pilots, in fact the only training being done is by the Airforce. Hence the Club feels that it needs to step up and fill that void. “In the past private air schools catered mainly for those who could afford to fly. We however, firmly believe this needs to change. We already have a multiracial student core from a variety of backgrounds, but we believe we can do more”, said King
The South African Government has long identified the need for a strong general aviation infrastructure to assist in transport development, the training of aviation professionals and job creation. Thus the club’s vision for the future is to establish a training facility for aviation maintenance engineers, cabin crew and ground personnel.
“We can do much and we believe we are capable of so much more. We have a vital role to play in the future of the Aviation Industry in this country”, concluded King, asking all in attendance to assist in achieving the dream.