Rise Above Aviators (RAA) - Fostering the youth of tomorrow

By Kgopotso Mongale, Goitseona Diale and Daniel Ralefeta

The Aero Club Transformation & Development (T & D) Programme was born in April 2012, initially as a SAMAA project as part of the National Lottery Board T & D scheme and to take advantage of a wider base of disciplines in Recreational Aviation, it was incorporated into the Aero Club.

It was initially the brainchild of Joe Coetzer who is well known in the Modelling fraternity, and as part of the T&D initiative at school level to introduce learners to Aviation, he developed the Delta Dart balsa wood and tissue paper construction model that had the idea of introducing budding young aviators to the principles of flight and at the same time, providing an understanding of building using basic cutting materials and glue.

The terms of reference to operate T & D was drafted, approved and implemented supporting the Aero Club Charter, with all Sections of the Aero Club covering a wide array of recreational disciplines actively promoting Transformation and Development of the historically disadvantaged youth of South Africa for the coming years.

The T & D programme was planned to consist of two main components:

· Awareness of Aviation - where the youth around the country are introduced to Aviation at air shows, at schools and at specific exhibitions where demonstrations and talks are given, where one of the key elements at each intervention was to hold Delta Dart Workshops, where each participant would build his or her own aircraft and test fly it. Where possible, some would enjoy an introductory flight in a glider or airplane.

· Development of selected individuals and groups to participate in Aviation Flying. - As a further initiative coming out of the awareness activity, for those individuals or group of individuals expressing interest in getting involved in aviation, the next phase of development is made available as a follow-on activity. The diversity in the Aero Club Sections in terms of disciplines is well utilised to find a matching environment in which budding aviators will find stimulating to participate.

The birth of Rise Above Aviators by Goitseona Diale

As a further phase to T & D, was the idea to foster an independent organisation qualifying as a Member Association to the Aero Club, as T & D gained more participation, it was thought that formalisation into a club structure should be created and an independence of carrying out and managing T & D, and as such, the awareness as one of the key components would be fully managed in this structure. At the end of 2018, Rise Above Aviators (RAA) was created as an NPC, with a committee structure and an initial membership, which was finally ratified by the Aero Club Council in January 2020 as a full Member Association. This gives a significant boost to the development of our youth in the hands of those who will take the initiatives to deliver.

With eight years of T & D activity, with the successes of having developed the youth from that initial spark of interest afforded at various awareness events, to individual training to being fully involved in Aviation, has led RAA to be an independent Association with the ability to plan and develop programmes to support the youth in aviation.

Transformation has always been the centre of discussion since the dawn of the rainbow nation. The aviation history is still unfortunately falling behind in terms of inclusivity, transformation and development is a key aspect in ensuring the future of our industry. Rise Above Aviators a somewhat "off-spring" of the previous Transformation and Development structure within the Aero Club of South Africa, has stepped up to become an independent NPC and now formally the newest organization within the Aero Club of South Africa.

"Aviation development is our duty as a flying community, fostering the youth of tomorrow to grow our sport, industry and create a new page in history is of paramount importance to us. Rise Above Aviators looks to be at the forefront of this development. With 8 years of experience in developing young aviators from their initial spark and introducing them into this wonderful community we have, has been at the center of our focus and a key objective in our succession plan." Goitseona said.

Goitseona continued. "We at Rise Above Aviators, are excited about this new journey as a structure within the Aero Club. Our primary objective is to positively contribute to the aviation community through meaningful aviation awareness, aviation development and positive collaboration. There are many structures within the Aero Club of South Africa that cater for a particular aviator and we would like to collaborate with the many exciting structures to build worthwhile relationships that will help our communities grow, support and contribute to this wonderful community of aviators."

"The end of 2019 was special for RAA and its exco led by Daniel Ralefeta, supported by Vice Chairman Goitseona Diale and Treasurer Kgopotso Mongale. The Aero Club awards were a major highlight in the build-up to officiating RAA, with Goitseona Diale our Vice Chairman, awarded with a prestigious Youth Development Award. This award was an affirmation that the Aero Club of South Africa believes in the objectives of RAA and supports the efforts made for youth in Aviation. The finalization of RAA's structure and key touch-ups to finalize our organization was also a highlight for RAA in 2019. Being supported by the exco of the Aero Club of South Africa ensured that our journey into this new chapter was bound to be successful."

"2020 started with a bang for RAA, it is our hope to continue with this momentum. We have various aviation awareness activities planned that engage with the marginalized in our communities and further promote transformation. To foster the growth of our organization, the support of our members and key stakeholders is important to us, this ensures that we continue developing activities to boost aviation development and we continue supporting other organizations in awareness programmes. We implore aviators who believe and support our vision to get in touch with us, your contribution and participation is integral to the success of RAA."

"Rise Above Aviators is excited for what 2020 will bring for the aviation community. We are delighted to know that we are supporting a momentous year for the Aero Club of South Africa and we are playing a key role in supporting and ensuring the objectives of the Aero Club are met. It goes without saying that we are nothing without our friends from other organizations and we are super excited to work with all of in the future." Goitseona concluded.

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