How SA pilot Tumi Katisi beat the odds to make her dream of flying come true

Boitumelo 'Tumi' Katisi is now a qualified commercial pilot, after many obstacles, and has her sights set on becoming a pilot instructor next.

Tumi says she knew she wanted to be a pilot after the day she spent job-shadowing at SAA.

When she turned 18, she got an application for flight school but her mother could not afford the fees at the time.

Read: Female pilots inspiring youth to dream of careers in the cockpit

Instead, she gained an internship at a glider company and used her first stipend to buy her first pilot's uniform.

Her mom intermittently saved up for her first private pilot licence when she realised how serious Tumi was.

But this meant that Tumi would stop and start her training, depending on when her mother had money to contribute.

Once she realised how this was affecting her training, she wrote motivational letters to over 100 brands asking for funding.

After some setbacks, she would later have R290 000 towards her commercial pilot licence sponsored thanks to 94.7 Highveld Stereo's Christmas Wish List initiative.

Also read: 36 young South Africans take to the skies for the first time with Sakhikamva

She now wants to teach other young people to fly and spread her love for aviation.

She's registered a non-profit organisation to help develop the future of aviation from across South Africa.

Tumi talks about how aviation has impacted her life and the positive responses she's received since being profiled on Humans of New York's Facebook page.

After having a real feel for aviation, that's when I fell in love with it.

Boitumelo 'Tumi' Katisi, pilot

I struggled a bit getting the information that I required, but luckily I got a mentor that flies at SAA and he guided me.

Boitumelo 'Tumi' Katisi, pilot

I was looking at over R350 000 at that time to go for my private pilot licence, bfore my commerical pilot licence. I took the quote home and my mom was really shocked with the fees.

Boitumelo 'Tumi' Katisi, pilot

My mom thought it was just a phase, so I had to convince her.

Boitumelo 'Tumi' Katisi, pilot

My mom could put in however much money she could, when she could. It affected my training because pilot training is all about muscle memory.

Boitumelo 'Tumi' Katisi, pilot

I want to be able to teach someone else to be able to fly, and maybe help them make their dream come true, like somebody did for me.

Boitumelo 'Tumi' Katisi, pilot

I owe my mom the world.

Boitumelo 'Tumi' Katisi, pilot

Listen to the inspiring conversation on The Pippa Hudson Show:

Image credit: Aviation Development In Africa on Twitter.


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : How SA pilot Tumi Katisi beat the odds to make her dream of flying come true


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