Commercial Drones PilotsFive drone graduates ready to take to the skies

September 10, 2021by helo-10

From left to right: Velile Mngoma, Braiden Kitching, Amanjee Moosa, Azwindini Mugari and Jayden Brink.

Five young South Africans are now ready to pursue careers in the drone industry after obtaining their drone pilot licences.

The students, beneficiaries of education funding from the Cyril Ramaphosa Education Trust (CRET), participated in a drone pilot training programme as part of development careers in the fourth industrial revolution.

The trust supported 10 students this year for the drone pilot programme, with Velile Mngoma, Amanjee Moosa, Azwindini Mugari, Braiden Kitching and Jayden Brink obtaining their qualifications.

According to a statement, the Academy of Aviation and CRET this week hosted a graduation ceremony where the graduates were able to demonstrate their pilot skills, and received their official certificates of qualification.

“This [qualification] will open doors for them to work as a precision agriculture surveyor, search and rescue drone operator, drone flight instructor or drone mechanic,” notes the statement. “These career paths are available in a wide variety of sectors, from construction and conservation, to mining and public safety.”

Chantelle Oosthuizen, executive director of CRET, says she is proud of what the future holds for the graduates. “As with all of our CRET graduates, it is an exciting moment to see them spread their wings and fly off into the world – this is quite literal for our aviation students.

“CRET isn’t just for university education. The programme exists to support and develop well-grounded graduates who grow to be leaders, who are of service to their community, and who have the skills to build a prosperous future.

“This can be done through a variety of education pathways, be it university, technical or vocational training. What we can see from this success is that young people need more options and help to get the necessary skills for new careers in a digital era.”

According to CRET, the graduates come from vastly different backgrounds, but all are looking forward to building stable careers in the aviation industry.

CRET bursary recipient and graduate Amanjee Moosa says: “Being able to have a chance to fly fills me with motivation.”

With drones now being used across commercial, scientific, engineering, agriculture and recreation industries, the demand for skilled pilots who can operate the unmanned aerial vehicles is on the rise on the African continent and abroad.

In SA, some government departments are recognising the advantages of putting drones to work.

Last October, president Cyril Ramaphosa indicated government plans to deploy drones to assist in the surveillance of the country’s mission-critical assets.

Former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula last year also noted plans to deploy surveillance drones along parts of the Beitbridge border post, to address security challenges posed by border-jumpers and smugglers.

In 2018, the provincial Department of Infrastructure Development revealed it is using five unmanned drones to monitor its infrastructure projects across Gauteng’s city region development corridors.

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There is more to being a drone pilot than just buying a machine and flying in your backyard. It can be that simple, but most of us will need to understand some drone laws before we try to take to the sky.


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