By Theodorah Waga Mawasha
KGAPANE: Refilwe Moreetsi has earned her stripes in the male-dominated industry of Aviation, where women being in the flight deck is often frowned upon and seldom heard of.
The 35-year-old mom of two was born in Kgapane, Greater Letaba, where she spent most of her childhood, before moving to Tzaneen town with her parents and siblings. In an exclusive interview with Tzaneen Voice, the pilot shared her experience, gathered over 14 years.
“I took a gap year after matric to look for opportunities and funding to pursue my dream. I applied to South African Airforce through a newspaper advertisement and got accepted. My first training was done on the Pilatus PC7 “Astra” aircraft, said Moreetsi.
“Thereafter, I flew the Oryx helicopter after receiving my wings. I was a pilot for SA Express and I now fly the Airbus A320 as a senior first officer at SAA (South African Airways), ” Moreetsi announced proudly.
However, her journey has not been entirely smooth because the industry has a few young black women she could relate to. Nevertheless, the ambitious young woman was never deterred from doing what she loves.
” It was daunting to be in a space where I couldn’t relate to anyone. I was however lucky to have great instructors and colleagues. My family has been, and is, the wind beneath my wings. My husband and children are the driving force and my biggest cheerleaders.” said Moreetsi
Pilot Mom: Refilwe Moreetsi
The academic has completed a BCom in Business Management in Aviation Management and stressed that it’s important to up-skill yourself in the Aviation industry because vital safety is a prerequisite and of paramount importance.
” I encourage women to come aboard and occupy Aviation spaces. Girl-children still in school must do maths. I do career expos at schools and I cannot stress enough the importance of putting in the work. I believe in imparting knowledge and I have an Instagram page called ‘pilot mom’ where I share more information.”
Despite flying the Oryx helicopter – the largest helicopter in the military, Moreetsi said flying President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Jacob Zuma will always be amongst the heart-warming moments in her aviation career.
The charismatic young woman advised young people who aspire to be in the Aviation fraternity, to seek funding and sponsorships through social media pages such as TETA(Transport Education Training Authority), SACAA (SA Civil Aviation Authority et al, because costs at Aviation schools are rather steep.