Young pilot lives his childhood dream
When other children would shout and wave at the rare sight of a plane flying above their village in Ngqamakhwe, Eastern Cape, asking it to bring them sweets and other goodies, Sipho Mangesi knew he wanted more than that.
Now, armed with a pilot's licence, 26-year-old Mangesi wants to fly higher in the world of aviation.
He said his home situation when growing up was no better than the other kids who wanted sweets to fall from the airplane above. The difference is that his parents instilled in him a sense of self-belief.
"They made me believe that all things are possible. I learnt to write my name in the sand because back then we never had stationery and proper facilities.
"The very first English phrase I learnt was 'My name is Sipho Mangesi'. Little did I know that I would one day introduce myself as Captain Sipho Mangesi," he said.
Mangesi said flying for them in the village seemed so far-fetched, almost out of this world.
"Due to lack of information about aviation, my passion almost died but my mother kept the fire burning and inspired me to reach for the stars and never give up on my dreams.
"I first went to the air force for selection, unfortunately training with them never happened. I ended up doing my training at Border Aviation Flying School, which was funded by the Eastern Cape department of transport," Mangesi said.
His undying dream was to one day fly his parents and for that to happen, he needed to have a private pilot licence.
"My parents just couldn't afford flying fees so they would contribute whatever they could give me. Needless to say, this delayed my training.
"A licence that was supposed to take me a couple of months to a year ended up taking me four years.
"My first flight as pilot in command in 2014 was more than what I had imagined. It was made special and sentimental by my very first passengers, my parents.
"I cannot explain the joy this brought to my heart, it's a moment I will forever cherish," Mangesi said.
Mangesi owns a company called iFly through which he conducts various aviation awareness initiatives.
"The idea was conceived alongside a close friend and colleague, Derek Nseko, in order to take the next step in addressing transformation in the industry.
"Our mission is to bridge critical gaps through various programmes and initiatives.
"We are conducting skills development, identifying the next generation of aviators, engineers and industry leaders."
Mangesi also gives children who have never flown 15-minute trips. This is his way of ploughing back to the community and motivating children to dream bigger.