Former SAA cabin crew member aims for the sky
JUST more than a decade ago Sindi Damoyi worked as a cabin crew member on South African Airways.
But today she owns the first 100percent black female-owned aviation and cabin crew training company, Marzies Aviation, in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni.
Her story in aviation and cabin crew training is a fascinating one.
Damoyi, 33, joined SAA in 1997 as a cabin crew member. She worked there for just more than two years and then resigned, but came back a year later to work in the operations division.
About three years later she worked in the load controlling section of the company and left it in 2008. She started Marzies on her own with her mother's financial help.
Last year Marzies received its licence from the South African Civil Aviation Authority.
"All I knew is that people were hungry for this profession but did not know how to start," she said.
Damoyi started training this year and six students have graduated from her institute.
Training at Marzies takes six to eight weeks, depending on the availability of aircraft in which students do practicals.
The course costs R12000 and she is licensed to take a maximum of 16 students.
There are about 18 institutions offering such training in the country.
She gets applications from all over the country but the selection process is strict.
One must at least have matric and the applicant's body weight must be proportional to their height.
"It depends on the aircraft for which you'll be trained. SAA wants applicants who are 1,58m in height, while SA Link takes people whose height is less than 1,58m because of aircraft specifics," she said.
Bigger aircraft require taller cabin crews and proficiency in English.
Before starting with training students have to go to aviation doctors who examine them for hearing, eyesight, lungs and heart conditions.
Then the students starts with the theory aspect, which includes safety and emergency procedure training.
They also learn firefighting and landing on water.
Students also learn about aviation medicine, including helping passengers who get a heart attacks or give birth.
"We also teach aerodynamics, which deals with understanding the entire engineering of the aircraft," said Damoyi.
"We don't guarantee jobs for our students but we have formed relations with airlines. Otherwise our graduates have to sell themselves," she said.
Damoyi said there was a huge demand for certified cabin crew and graduates could work in chartered private jets.
"You can work as cabin crew member even up to the age of 50, depending on your fitness," she said.
Her strength in her career has been her 10-year-old daughter Boh-Boh.
"My plan is to expand to every province and bring this profession to young people."