Being a pilot

Enjoying life in a man’s world of aviation is a privilege very few people are fortunate to experience.    

One such fortunate person is Rizwana Khan. Islam Today delved into her life as a pilot.

Islam Today   – What made you choose to become pilot?

Rizwana  -   I did not want a routine job with fixed working hours.  I wanted to be involved in a dynamic ,

ever-changing environment.  Many occupations came to mind but I opted for the “office in the skies”-

with the best view in the world – the Aviation Industry – the life of pilot.

I.T.  -  You said it was dynamic, what makes it so?

Rizwana - Firstly, let’s start with the very basic, flying a small plane, every day, from the same airport.  

Every fight will be different because of the ever-changing weather conditions at your departing airport,

during flight and at the destination.  So you are involved in continuous decision making, adjustments

and corrections to adapt to the different weather conditions to ensure a safe and smooth flight, and no

two flights or days are the same.  Secondly, you travel to different airports which of course are based in

different cities, which enhances the variety in your job.

I.T.  -  What are the perks of the job as pilot?

Rizwana  -  Apart from getting paid for what you love to do, obviously you get to travel a lot.  It provides

a platform to express yourself whilst you are realising your talent, passion and dream.  Your offices are

in the skies and to enjoy the stunning sights and scenery especially from low level flying is an experience

one cannot really describe, except to say Subhanallah.  Apart from meeting many people, from the

ordinary person to leaders and celebrities, you are in a way allowed to self -manage your time.  You

have flexible working hours and many “days off”.  It is not unusual for a pilot to get up to two weeks of

“time off”  in a month.  Airline pilots have constantly changing schedules that vary each month, this

allows them the opportunity to explore and get a chance to visit places in far flung corners of our

beautiful country, the continent and the world at large.

I.T.  -  Is it a lonely job  ?

Rizwana  -  Definitely not,  as a new pilot, new aviation friends will embrace you, help and support you.  

They will make to never want to give up.  The people in this industry are a different breed.  When you

become a pilot, you join an instant fraternity, an instant family.   Becoming a pilot makes you smarter.

You’ll gain knowledge that you never thought you would need to know. You will become a better

planner, and a logical decision maker. You will also learn good resource management, how to be patient

and how to operate safely yet with a sense of urgency.  You’ll learn to do maths in your head quickly –

after all, when your life depends on it, you learn to do all kinds of things quickly.        

   I.T.  -  What qualification you need to become a pilot and the costs?

Rizwana  -  Ideally, a matric exemption  with maths and physical science.  But I did it with Biology and  

with a bit of extra work, I succeeded in flying.  It all depends on attitude, self-belief and confidence.  It

costs about the same region of a major degree, e.g. engineering or medicine.

I.T.  -  How long does it take to become a pilot?

Rizwana  -  Here again, there is flexibility.  You study and train at your own pace.  There is no hard and

fast time schedule and many people train around their finances.  During my free time , I obtained my

B.Comm Degree (Management) , which will help me in the latter years.  It could take 2-3 years to

acquire your licence.  There are colleagues that worked on a full time basis to acquire finance and

trained after hours and weekends.

I.T.  -    What are the job outlooks?

Rizwana  -  There is always a shortage of pilots.  Once you meet the minimum requirements, you are

looked at favourably.  Thereafter you progress through the ranks.  I have an ATP licence which will allow

me to be a Captain on a plane.  Since I have an Instructors licence, I can graduate as a Training Captain,

which is one of the very senior positions in the aviation industry.  I can also choose to go into any

management opportunities that are available.  This allows me to share my time with flying and

management.  There is a whole lot of opportunities and flexibility work wise.

I.T.  -    Tell us about your decision and journey with regards to your training and choice of flight school.

Rizwana  -  I started and completed my training with a Commercial Pilot licence and as a Flight Instructor  

at the  Durban Aviation Centre,(DAC) which is situated at the Main Terminal building, Virginia Airport.   I

found DAC to be very competitive price wise and   thoroughly professional. I had a few instructors on

the way and some of them were very experienced retired pilots .At first I was a bit overwhelmed at the  

emphasis on the minutest details  and adherence to law and order in the most stringent form. Through

experience I realised it formed the backbone to be a competent pilot. There are many stages of growth

and development which gave you a sense of achievement as you progress with your training.


I.T.  -  Why would you recommend anybody to become pilot?

Rizwana  -  It is a very fulfilling occupation that gives you a thrill every time you are flying.  It might not

happen overnight, but eventually you will have these moments when you understand the magnitude of

flying, how immense a privilege it really is to be a pilot.  When you are flying alone on a dark moonlight

night, you will feel you are the only one in the world.  When you see the sun rise during take- off, you

will be reminded of the grandeur of this beautiful earth and Allah’s Glory.  Flying an airplane is fun stuff,

that’s why people are attracted to it in the first place.  Getting behind the controls of the beautiful,

huge, powerful, sleek, and elegant machine, pushing the throttle forward and taking off from the

runway is exhilarating, it’s a blast.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Anyone who would like Rizwana to give them a comprehensive low-down on flying as a career could

contact  :  Jenny  on 031 -5732995  -  email :    to schedule a


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