MIDRAND, JOHANESBURG – Historically, men dominated almost every industry. Patriarchal societies expected women to look after homes and families. As the world evolves, women are now being acknowledged and envied for living their lives to the fullest while pursing their dreams.
August being Women’s Month, CommuTalk caught up with Gwanda born trainee female pilot, Inobubele Dube (21) who has gone against all odds to achieve her destiny in the skies.
Women’s Months is a global month and South Africa does not just celebrate the day on 9 August annually but has set the day as a public holiday.
The day is celebrated to commemorate how women made a political statement in August 1956 by marching to the Union Buildings to protest against apartheid laws.
Young and optimistic, she is a character who has a deep faith in her abilities and an indomitable spirit, that she believes nothing can stop her from succeeding in her pursuits and getting the just rewards.
Dube is of medium height, lean and radiates an abundance of vitality.
For her, passion is key in following one’s mission and attaining goals.
“In our societies we lack a sense of passion; we do not do things because we love to do them but we do things because we feel we have to do them,” she says.
At the age of ten, she had her first flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
“It was surreal, when we were in the air, I thought to myself, I want this, every day of my life,” said Dube with sincerity.
Dube is a trainee female pilot at Flight Training Services, Grand Central Airport in Midrand Johannesburg and hails from Gwanda, a mining town in Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe.
Currently, she is doing a training circuit which involves practising landings and takeoffs. She has already done most of the manoeuvres.
“So, I now know how to climb and descend, make steep turns and medium turns. I have also learnt how to react in the event of a stall, a spin and an engine failure. I have also excelled in all my written examinations; there is one left to write but I’m all set with the theoretical part of my training,” she said, giving a wry smile.
“I was surprised as to why there wasn’t much representation for black girls in the industry and I wanted to change that. Wanting to convince young women that their dreams are attainable was another push for me to dare the flying field,” she added.
Dube was inspired by Chipo Matimba who is Zimbabwe’s first woman to successfully complete a pilot training course in the Air Force of Zimbabwe where she became the frst female combat pilot.
“Matimba and Elizabeth Petros flew the country’s first all female flight deck crew from Harare to Victoria Falls. I thought to myself if they can do it so can I,” Dube further said.
Despite the fact that Zimbabwe’s aviation industry is ailing, Dube says doors are finally open for aspiring female pilots.
“To be a good pilot one has to be always vigilant and aware of everything that’s happening around you,” explained Dube.
“You always have to be focused and make sure that you are going through all your checks and you are paying absolute attention to what you are doing,” she further narrated.
Dube’s instructor Sethu Magwentshu, said his student is developing quite well, and is getting better than average.
“She is pretty good at handling the aircraft and soon we will be seeing her flying solo all by herself in the skies” Magwentshu said.
Magwentshu also indicated that he is getting more female students for which he believes is good for the industry.
“Previously, you would see less female pilots as compared to today where the number of females training is constantly growing. The diversity does help at lot in the cockpit situation and decision making, and it always benefits a culture in a fight to have different views and understanding so you can find a solution and cooperate better,” Magutshwa added
Thirty per cent of training pilots at Flight Training Services are female.
Dube found her way to the flight academy through assistance of South African based Zimbabwean businessman, Justice Maphosa, CEO of Big Time Strategic Group who is funding her studies.
“We are assisting in the training of Inobubele to take us to the skies one day. We want more and more girls to be pilots and show that they can enter that field just as their male counterparts. We know aviation, particularly flying planes, is a man’s world and we believe in gender equality and equal opportunities,” Maphosa said
“When this young lady achieves her dream, we believe she will be a torch bearer who will shine to inspire others and thus our investment in her,” Maphosa added.
For Dube, the most rewarding time was when she mastered a manoeuvre and her instructor told her she had done it fantastically.
Like any endeavour, there are challenges that Dube faces in her aspiration to become a pliot. For her, fully preparing for a flight and failing because of the weather or aircraft being in maintenance are some of the hurdles.
“It kills my vibes but then again it’s the reality of what we do,” Dube said.
In her opinion, Dube sees a bright future as society is starting to accept that females can do whatever they want and can now penetrate some industries that were previously the preserve of men.
The exhilarating notion of making a difference in someone’s life just by achieving one’s own goals also moves the budding pilot.
“I find joy in showing young black girls who are growing up that absolutely anything they want to achieve is possible. Not seeing someone of your gender where you are determined to be does not mean it’s unattainable,” Dube highlighted.
“I set out to do want I wanted to do” Dube added, her eyes sparkling with the truth of her words.
At the top of her bucket list is a wish to be a corporate pilot, and also be able to help upcoming female pilots navigate their way through their entire training.
“I’m still not entirely sure how I will achieve that but it’s definitely on my agenda,” she confidently said.
“Don’t let small minded people tell you that your dreams are too big; a lot of friends and relatives told me to settle for what was in their minds, but I had to follow my own dream” she said while raising her voice with passion.
Apart from flying Dube loves music and is part of a Zimbabwean group called Hybrid Psalms. Being in the kitchen is also close to her heart. Recently she has fallen in love with hiking and says the locations are breathtaking.
“Boeing 747-400 and the entire Roll Royce Tent Range is my favourite engine” Dube shared.
A placard on the walls at the academy that reads, “The engine is the heart of the airplane but the pilot is the soul,” has been Dube’s motivation since day one.