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Pilot aims to make aviation accessible, especially to girls

Cape Town – Amanda Kandawire-Khoza, 31, from Soweto has proven why she is the whole package, having started three business ventures during the Covid-19 pandemic, aside from being a pilot.

Kandawire-Khoza knew she wanted to be a pilot from the age of five and was adamant to make her dreams a reality and enrolled in a flight school right after completing her high school career.

Speaking to African News Agency (ANA), she said she started flying at the age of 17 but received the best 18th birthday gift.

“I started flying solo on my 18th birthday,” Kandawire-Khoza said.

She has worked for airlines such as SA Express, South African Airways (SAA) and Emirates.

Kandawire-Khoza also flew the world’s biggest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, when she relocated to Dubai while working for Emirates.

“I enjoyed flying the Airbus A380. I had Airbus experience from SAA and needed that in order to fly the A380. You know, size does matter as it was a challenge flying the A380, but I thoroughly enjoyed flying that aircraft,” Kandawire-Khoza told ANA.

After working at Emirates for a year and a half, Kandawire-Khoza was retrenched due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and she packed her bags and returned to South Africa in October.

“When I came home I knew the aviation industry in South Africa would also be badly affected by Covid-19. So, I made the decision to not job-hunt for the next year and focus on my entrepreneurial side,” Kandawire-Khoza said.

Amanda Kandawire-Khoza, 31, from Soweto, is a pilot, entrepreneur and digital illustrator inspiring women and children across the country with her love for aviation. Picture: Supplied/Facebook: Amanda Kandawire-Khoza

She took the time to delve into her creative side and do all the things she couldn’t when flying.

This gave life to two of her businesses, Fly Like A Girl, and Layover Art.

Fly Like A Girl is a company on a mission to expose children, especially the girl child, to aviation through play.

The company produces educational toys to expose children to the wonders of aviation and to inform them of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers through play routines.

The products are locally manufactured and 20% of each sale goes towards a bursary fund for future pilots.

“Fly Like A Girl has always been an idea for a couple of years. I even had the business registered in 2015. It has always been apparent that there is a lack of females in the aviation field.

“I volunteered at a non-government organisation (NGO) and we used to speak to children (mostly in high school from about Grade 10) and by this time they are either already set on a career or they have the wrong subjects.

“I thought there has to be a way to target children at a younger age. I wanted to create something to educate, inform and expose others to aviation. Younger children play with their parents and this in turn educates the parents and/or family too,” Kandawire-Khoza told ANA.

The company has a variety of logbooks and puzzles available and even has apparel which started off for sale to those within the aviation industry. However, children’s apparel is on the cards.

Amanda Kandawire-Khoza, 31, from Soweto, is a pilot, entrepreneur and digital illustrator inspiring women and children across the country with her love for aviation. Photo: Supplied/Facebook: Amanda Kandawire-Khoza

Layover Art was not a planned business but has become a success nonetheless.

“I have always had a creative side and whenever I was not flying I was doing something creative. Drawing was something I used to do, so naturally in lockdown I drew a lot and I transitioned from pen and paper to digital art. Before I knew it I was selling art. It was not a business idea, it just happened,” Kandawire-Khoza laughs.

She also has an obsession with earrings, and when the pandemic gave her the space to be as free as she could be, doing the things she couldn’t normally do, she just dived into it.

Kandawire-Khoza told ANA she had dabbled in making earrings before but pushed it aside. Now she’s receiving orders via her website and having goods delivered all over South Africa.

She was also listed in the Sunday World’s Heroic Women 2021 edition under the ICT and Science category.

Speaking on the listing, Kandawire-Khoza said it was an amazing surprise.

Words of encouragement from this pilot, entrepreneur and digital illustrator are: “Now more than ever it is important to do what you love. Find yourself in what God has aligned for you.

“The onus is on you to change if you are not happy. Always follow your dreams and know you have to work hard.

“When the chips are down, always bet on yourself”.

African News Agency (ANA)

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