Dubai-based SA pilot revisits destinations that captured her heart forever
At 30, Amanda Khoza is living her childhood dream to be a pilot. She operates the Emirates A380 Airbus, the world's largest passenger carrier, as a First Officer pilot.
Currently based in Dubai, she reveals a bit more of her background.
“I am an only child to two incredible parents. I grew up in a township called Soweto in Gauteng, South Africa. My mom was from the Eastern Cape, which is a 9-hour drive from Gauteng. Most holidays my parents and I would take a bus to the Eastern Cape to go visit family. My parents didn’t own a car back then, so we could never drive ourselves there.
"This one particular holiday, my parents couldn’t get time off work and they were too scared to let me take the bus alone because I was only five years old. So they bought me a plane ticket and that’s how I got to the Eastern Cape. That was my first time flying and I was hooked. From that one flight, I knew that I wanted to be a pilot when I grew up.”
And that determination never wavered. After high school, she enrolled to get her pilot’s license.
She adds, “I was very determined to become a pilot and all I needed was a foot in the door. My parents initially funded my flying course through a loan when I started and I took up a full-time job and studied part-time. Throughout my career, I’ve been blessed to receive three bursaries towards my flight training. And they were all instrumental in building my career. I now hold an Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence and over the years I flew turboprop airplanes before moving onto regional jets.”
“My first Airbus rating was an A319/320. When I joined the Emirates family,” she recalls.
When asked about her last flight since the global lockdown, she shares, “It was Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The day we arrived all public spaces were closed, so I spent my time relaxing and watched Netflix and ordered room service, during my layover.”
Having flown for close-on 12 years, Khoza has gotten to travel more than most people and she always makes the most of every opportunity.
She admits, “I love going out and experiencing life in other countries, so most layovers I try to do something. Bangkok is such a great city. There’s always so much to do and never enough time. But no Bangkok layover is complete without a Thai massage and a trip to a night market for some shopping and street food.
“Rome is beautiful. I went to see the Colosseum and made a wish at the Trevi Fountain. There are so many little cafes and pizza spots and if you sit outside there’s bound to be live music close by.
“Nice in France is just incredibly beautiful. We took a scenic drive to Monaco and we walked until our feet hurt. We ended the day with wine and pastries as we watched the sun go down. And I loved shopping at the markets in Casablanca despite a few challenges with the local language as I don’t speak Arabic or French. They have the best mud masks and Argan Oil products. So even though there is a communication gap, I still go out and enjoy the city.”
What about food experiences, where have you had the best dishes, to date?
Khoza enthuses, “I love Asian food. So my best dishes have been in Thailand and Singapore. I can never pronounce the names of the dishes, so I just point at the menu! And no meal is complete without dessert. Khao Niew Ma Muang (mango and sticky rice) is my absolute favourite!”
For now, all travel is on hold. But she is making the best of the situation especially with her being away from her family back home.
She admits, “I miss them terribly but communication has become such an easy thing to do now. I am taking it a day at a time and actively trying to limit my exposure to things that could cause me more anxiety.
"Some days are good and I miss flying, but I’m trying my best to fill my days with other things that bring me joy! I catch up on my reading, bake, workout, and study. And some days all I do is eat and Netflix. Talking to other people also helps. A quick call or chat always lifts my spirit and gives me comfort.”