Sizwe Khawula
Sizwe Khawula

Pilot turns to crowdfunding to give him wings

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published Nov 17, 2018

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Durban - As a child, Sizwe Khawula watched planes in the sky and dreamed of flying high.

Now 29, he is still determined to achieve his dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot, despite bumps along the path.

Growing up in Umzumbe and then moving to uMlazi, Sizwe said: “I remember watching planes and wanting to be a pilot from a very young age. When we saw a plane high in the sky, we would use the clock to point its position, saying there’s one at 3 o’clock.

“I remember coming here to Durban to live in uMlazi and I used to go and watch the planes at the Durban Airport.”

When he left school, Sizwe already knew exactly what he wanted to do, but his matric maths mark was not high enough for him to apply to become a pilot.

He considered studying nursing at the University of Western Cape but then life and its realities came along.

“Our electricity had been cut off and there was no money, so I knew I had to find a job,” he said.

He found work in a factory and since then has saved money and taken a small loan to get his pilot’s licence.

Joining the Durban Aviation Centre in 2014, Sizwe sat in the cockpit for the first time, having never been a passenger on a commercial flight.

“You know that feeling when you celebrate your birthday? It was the same feeling. I was just smiling.”

Having passed all his private pilot licence theory exams, Khawula has tried to rack up flying hours.

“I would wait for a paycheck and then try to get some more flying.

“I started thinking of the friends that I have and whether they would help. And then I thought why not extend that?” he said.

So he turned to social media and started a BackaBuddy fund-raising campaign, “Sizwe’s Journey To The Cockpit”, his target being a donation of R47 each from at least 10000 people. The total amount required to achieve his commercial pilot’s licence is R485000

Durban Aviation Centre senior instructor Fatima Mungwari, said Sizwe was really passionate about flying.

“At one stage he was here daily, even when he didn’t have a lesson.” For his fundraising campaign, go to

Independent On Saturday

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