How Westline Aviation prepared me for the airline world.

My relationship with Westline Aviation and its owner Charlie Marais spans 10 years. In order for me to adequately elaborate on my experiences there, I must begin by writing about the life long desire I had to become a pilot.

As a young child, I was very curious about everything that had to do with flying objects. I grew up playing with toy aeroplanes, running out of the house every time I heard the roar of an aircraft, watching movies featuring pilots, going to the library to read aviation books and spending all my pocket money on related magazines and videos.

Going to air shows held at New Tempe Municipal airport gave me the opportunity to learn more about what Westline Aviation had to offer and these platforms gave voice to my long held ambitions of becoming a pilot. It was during one of these air shows that I was afforded the privilege of meeting Lt Col Charlie Marais just prior to his departure from the South African Air Force (SAAF).

During our interaction, Charlie mentioned his desire to actively involve himself in the ownership of Westline Aviation and along with several other people, also played a pivotal role in organizing my admission to the school in subsequent years.

My flying career began at Westline Aviation on the 10th of January 2005. What impressed me about my first day was the fact that the owner of the school took the time to introduce me to his staff and made every effort to make me feel welcome.

Looking back on that day often brings a personal sense of nostalgia. It was definitely one of the defining moments of my career.

The years I spent at Westline Aviation were occupied in various capacities. I began as a Private Pilot License (PPL) student. Upon obtaining my PPL, I served a brief stint as the operations manager for the company. I studied for my Commercial Pilot's License (CPL) and Instructor's Rating and after completing of my studies was employed as a Grade III Instructor by the school.

During my tenure as a Grade III Instructor, I was given the opportunity to appear for an interview with South African Express Airways for its first cadet pilot training course. To my amazement, I was selected, but unfortunately I had to resign my instructor's position and from the 10th of July 2008, I was no longer employed by the school.

My career at South African Express (SAX) began on the 11th of July 2008 and I am proud to say that it is going very well.

On the 16th of March 2009, I became the very first SAX Cadet to complete his airline training and fly as a junior first officer on the Dash 8.

Today I am an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATP) holder and still flying very happily on the Dash 8 for SAX.

Looking back on my aviation career reminds me of the wonderful experiences I have had, the inspirational people I have met and the life lessons I have learned. I can only be grateful for the successes I have enjoyed, however none of them would have been possible without the mentorship I received and the example set before me by the people I admire.

Having experienced different training environments and flying operations, I can definitely say that Westline Aviation is a leading player on the South African aviation landscape. Seldom have I experienced organization and professionalism of the Westline Aviation caliber. The standard of flight training is very high and served as the foundation on which I could build a successful airline career.

What I will never forget is the mentorship I received from the first day I embarked on my aviation career. The grooming I received in that time prepared me for the challenges I would face at later stages in life.

I will always be grateful for having the privilege of growing and blossoming in a disciplined flying environment and I feel honored to count myself as a life long member of the Weslline Aviation family.

Vuyo Wakaba

Dash 8 First Officer
South African Express Airways


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