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 : firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a