To help raise funds for local students, the Border Aviation Club hosted a Golf Day at the West Bank Golf Club on October 8.
The local club and flight school are dedicated to the development of commercial and recreational pilots as well as the promotion of the aviation industry.
It has the facilities, aircraft and instructor experience to offer aspirant pilots from all walks of life the opportunity to take to the skies.
During Covid-19, the aviation industry was hard hit with people leaving the industry, and with the recent fuel hikes, this has worsened.
Border Aviation flight instructor, Andrew De Bruyn, said the industry was experiencing a need for pilots, which reflected the global trend.
During the pandemic, pilots were furloughed and decided not to return as it impacted their ratings.
As a result, the industry is ripe for new entrants.
Border Aviation business manager Paul Cormack said “the aftermath of Covid-19 and the general decline of the aviation industry saw many aspirant commercial students opting out for alternate career paths thus placing pressure on our bottom line.
“Fortunately, as expected, the world has reopened and the aviation industry is moving through a recovery phase.”
A student at the Border Aviation Flight School, Kelvin Anku, said for foreign nationals like himself who came to SA to do their pilot’s licences, fundraising opportunities were crucial as they could not apply for grants or loans in SA.
Anku said the huge costs involved in obtaining a pilot’s licence presented a barrier to many.
De Bruyn said even South African students who received funding through the government struggled to afford the course.
The funds raised through Golf Day will enable the school to sponsor flight training hours for students.
De Bruyn encouraged aspiring pilots to consider studying in East London given the cheaper costs for accommodation and resources in the Eastern Cape, compared to provinces such as Gauteng.
The club was able to raise more than R90,000 to cover operational costs for the flight school.
CTM East London was the main sponsor and players participating were awarded various prizes.
Though the aviation industry is beset with financial challenges, Cormack said: “The issue of every private pilot and the commercial pilot licence is an achievement at Border Aviation. Despite the challenges facing the aviation industry at large, we have continued to remain a stalwart aviation institution in the Eastern Cape, overseeing the training conclusion of many aspirant commercial pilots.”