By Sindiso Dube in Pretoria, SOUTH AFRICA
A quick glance into her small room at the students’ residency before the interview, which came only an hour before her first experience in the air as a pilot, revealed there was panic and disquiet at the same time.
Her room was in disarray, with books and small papers strewn all over the place.
Inobubele Dube (21) was preparing for her make-or-break practical test of flying an aircraft in South Africa’s Midrand area last week.
Dube, who hails from Gwanda, is currently studying towards a pilot private licence at Fly Training Services and is expecting to have completed her studies in the next six months.
After flying with her parents when she was only 10 years old, all Dube wanted, since that day, was to be a pilot.
She chased her dream for 11 years before she could steer an aircraft into the sky.
Dube, however, almost quit chasing her dream due to the financial constraints faced by her family before a good Samaritan in Gwanda-born business mogul Justice Maphosa came to her rescue.
Maphosa is the founder of Big Time Strategic Group, which has Fly Training Services as one of its subsidiaries.
Dube went to Premiere High School in Bulawayo where she came out of with flying colours.
“After passing my A’Level studies all I wanted to be was a pilot and the only way I could do that in Zimbabwe was going through the Airforce of Zimbabwe, but I couldn’t stand the physical training that comes with it and I was not prepared to go that way,” she said.
“I started looking outside the country and found a school in Midrand — Fly Training Services — and got accepted.
“I was very happy before they sent me the fee structure where I realised that my family could not afford it.
“I needed more than R100 000 for the fees, excluding accommodation, transportation and food.
“I thought the dream was shattered, I was heartbroken, there was no way my family could have raised such an amount.”
Dube, however, did not lose hope and approached Matabeleland South Provincial Affairs minister Abednico Ncube who linked her with Maphosa.
She first met Maphosa in Bulawayo and the businessman was keen to know how deep her passion for aviation ran.
After an impressive pitch by Dube, Maphosa immediately offered to pay her fees, accommodation and also give her a stipend.
“That’s how I got to be here,” the aspiring pilot said. “I thank Maphosa and also the minister for all this. If it wasn’t for them, I would not be here.”
Dube comes from a family of four and her parents are teachers. She has now set her sights on becoming one of the few female pilots in Zimbabwe.
“I like working hard for something and to research more rather than getting something on a silver platter.
“It was amazing flying for the first time in a small aircraft. I felt the turbulence, but within a short space of time I was enjoying what I was doing.
“I had a great experience. I don’t know how to describe the feeling and the amount of time I have waited for this.”
Dube said she was inspired by one of Zimbabwe’s pioneering female black pilots, Chipo Matimba.
“I am inspired by one of the first female pilots from Zimbabwe, Chipo,” she said.
“I follow her a lot and she inspires me. If she could do it, why can I not do it?
“Being the first prospective female pilot from Gwanda I think I have set standards for others and everyone who comes from small towns like Gwanda.
“I hope it inspires others and especially those who are still in school.”
Maphosa said he was happy with Dube’s progress.
“I am happy that all is working in her right direction,” he said. “We took her and put her under our wings and we wish her nothing but the best in her studies and future as a pilot.”