Fireblade onboards local learners for World Pilots’ Day

South African private charter company, Fireblade Aviation hosted an immersive Career Exploration Day to mark World Pilots’ Day on 26 April.

Learners were chauffeured from Edenvale’s Dowerglen High School to Fireblade’s premises where they met with pilots who fly some of the world’s most exclusive private jets and helicopters. “This experience opened our minds to a future of possibility,” said Headboy Kwena Makhafola who believes there are opportunities to positively influence learners at Dowerglen, a feeder school for Alexandra Township.

Students interacted with pilots and were introduced to the diversity of skills required to run a fixed based operation (FBO) such as Fireblade. “I learned the place where you start on the career ladder as a school leaver is not where you’ll finish – there are many paths to success,” said Lethabo Teffo, selected for her aptitude in maths and science.

Inspiring a future generation of aviation leaders

“The aviation industry needs a more diverse and inclusive workforce, which requires youth exposure to a broad range of careers and opportunities within aviation,” says Sharlenee Naidoo, Marketing Manager at Fireblade Aviation. “What better way than to treat these learners to an experience they will never forget; exposing them to the practical skills will contribute to their employability and success in the future job market.”

For Botshelo Mani, a matriculant with his sights set on becoming a pilot, the day was a dream come true. The opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a luxurious Augusta helicopter fired up his ambitions to find out more about his chances of becoming a pilot.

In South Africa only 14.5% of male pilots are African, Coloured and Indian; and an equally small sliver of 13.5% represents the total percentage of female pilots in the country. “This is why it’s important to reach into our communities and capture the imaginations of learners who have never considered this industry before,” says Naidoo. “Building a career in aviation goes way beyond pilots, engineers and air stewards.” It’s important for learners to realise, particularly schools like Dowerglen which focusses on leadership, discipline, and future-facing opportunity mapping.

To start bridging this gap, the business has partnered with NPO, GrowZA. “We connect development opportunities with social investors like Fireblade Aviation who want to make a tangible difference to communities,” says Executive Director, Craig Kensley. “Inclusivity is an industry-wide challenge, and Fireblade encourages business peers to get on board and join them in taking bold steps for progressive social change.”

“We believe in creating extraordinary experiences in everything we do; and marking World Pilots’ Day was no exception. Learners went through our departure lounge, on-site customs, and boarded a helicopter, earning them a Badge of Honour into our Fireblade Future Aviator Club,” says Naidoo. “We look forward to hosting a career fair later this year as part of our commitment to empowering communities.”

Job creation, sustainable business practice, and net positive impact are key drivers for Fireblade Aviation. It is the first aviation company to receive Travel Partner status from The Long Run – a non-profit membership organisation of tourism businesses committed to driving holistic sustainability in conservation, culture, commerce, and community.