Wonders of Aviation Open Day and Awards Dinner Brits Airfield 20

By Willie Bodenstein

Wonders of Aviation South Africa is an NPO that uses the magic of flight to inspire and educate previously disadvantaged youth about the aviation industry and to engender a lifelong love of learning.

WOA SA supports the aviation industry's outreach programs that encourage learners to consider a career in aviation, while focusing the majority of its effort on individuals who we hope will become mentors and future aviation industry leaders. WOA SA believes that safe and efficient air transportation requires the commitment of exceptional individuals who value technical knowledge, team work and safety.

Wonders of Aviation's objectives are to help South Africa's previously disadvantaged youth who demonstrate a love and enthusiasm for aviation to pursue a career in aviation. (Mentors and role models are available to provide support and encouragement to these youth.) To support South Africa's aviation companies and industry associations with their outreach programmes for previously disadvantaged youth and to provide a forum for sharing educational and training ideas as well as creating a community of aviation volunteers.

On Saturday 27 October WOA held its annual open day and awards dinner at Brits Airfield where Daniel Ralefeta Executive Team Member of WOA and an avid IT specialist, trainer and aviator as well as the Chairman of the Aero Club of South Africa Transformation and Development section welcomed all to the event. Daniel who also oversees the development of aviation enthusiasts through model flying, glider pilot training and the achievement of a private pilot license next introduced Dy Moosammy.

Dy, the Chairperson of WOA is the Senior Manager of Learning and Development at Comair Limited, where her responsibilities include the management of Comair's Cadet Pilot Programme, learnerships, and graduate programmes, as well as oversight of a Learning Academy that serves indigent learners. Dy is also the Vice-President of the Association of African Aviation Training Organisations (AATO), a UN-ICAO mandated initiative responsible for the standardising and harmonising of training material for all African aviation training organisations. Dy then introduced Donald Schenk / Deputy Chairperson SA & Chairperson USA of WOA .

Donald Schenk is the person who created Wonders of Aviation and is also the Chairman and CEO of ACA Associates, Inc. a New York-based strategic planning and financial advisory firm focused on the aviation industry. Donald was a Managing Director in the aviation unit of Bankers Trust prior to founding ACA Associates. He is a member of the New York Wings Club, sits on the board of Bainbridge Community Foundation, sits on the Finance Committee of Benaroya Research Institute, a scientific institution that is focused on autoimmune diseases and also sits on the board of the Kossoye Development Project, which helps the people of Ethiopia in their efforts to improve health, lifelong learning, and food security. Donald introduced Gift Kgadima, the final speaker and the convener of the WOA event at Brits.

Gift Kgadima is a product of the Aero Club's T&D team and was one of WOA's first Award Winners. He has been given leadership positions at Cornerstone College where he learned to fly drones. He has been given responsibility for some of the Aero Club's activities and was responsible for the 2017 collaboration with CSIR in organising the Wind Tunnel Tour. Gift is a Schenk Family Award Winner and was elected Secretary of WOA in 2017, he has been awarded a bursary by WOA to help him pursue his pilot training. AASA sponsored his attendance at their Annual General Assembly in 2017. He also spent time flying drones for Air Shepherd an organisation supported by the Lindbergh Foundation that uses drones to protect elephants in Africa.

The day's activities were divided into categories where invited companies or individuals displayed various disciplines in the aviation industry. Represented were the soaring society, drones, powered parachute gliding, model radio controlled aircraft and the sport aerobatic club.

Neville Ferreira probably stole the show when he arrived and his talk on being an aerobatic pilot was one of the most popular of the day.

Riaan Struwig of Epic Aviation explained the basics of powered gliding to a rapt audience of youngsters whilst the drone stand was another that drew a lot of interest.

Gliders were regularly launched during the day whilst later in the afternoon selected number of scholars were taken aloft.

Another favourite activity was the radio controlled flying.

There can be no more doubt that Drones are here to stay and that we are at the beginning of a technology that is forever going to change not only the way that we fly but also the transport industry and other industries drastically.

We could unfortunately not stay for the late afternoon prize giving and awards dinner. However, WOA Award Winner achievements in 2018 included the following:

Buhle Dlodlo - hired by Hensoldt, a multinational aerospace company based in Munich. Accepted into a Masters Programme in Aeronautical Engineering at Wits University (with a scholarship).
Gift Kgadima - passed 5 subjects towards his Commercial Pilot's License (CPL), and his Glider Pilot's License has been renewed.
Orifha Mbedzi - received a scholarship from Accenture to study Information Technology.
Mahlatsi Mokonyane - was selected to participate in a South African Air Force (SAAF) programme in Cuba.
Frans Monakisi - published his second book of poetry, he is studying Biomedical Science and founded an aviation-inspired clothing brand called Runway 21.
Elijah Rakoma - is studying Mechanical Engineering.

Our congratulations go to the award winners, as well as to WOA for an extremely successful day.

Events 2018

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