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Wonders of Aviation

Wonders of Aviation is a South African non-profit organisation that uses the magic of flight to inspire and educate previously disadvantaged youth about the aviation industry, and to engender a lifelong love of learning.

Wonders of Aviation supports the aviation industry’s outreach programs that encourage learners to consider a career in aviation, while focusing the majority of its effort on individuals who we hope will become mentors and future aviation industry leaders.

Wonders of Aviation Outreach Project

In 2013, Donald Schenk took this idea to South Africa and was introduced to the individuals who transformed this idea into Wonders of Aviation. They include: Kev Storie, Daniel Ralefeta and Dick Bradley of the Aero Club of South Africa; Vees Lochan, CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa; Philip Haupt and Robert Malan of the National Aerospace Center; Frank Majaramhepo of Air Traffic Navigation Services; Yolinda Mooloo of the South African Civil Aviation Authority; Natalie Kyd, Clint Montague, and Moses Tshibalanganda of South African Airways; Dy Moonsammy of Comair Limited; Ben Naidoo of Airports Company South Africa; and two Airbus retirees: Major General Winston Thackeray and Peter Jost.

Daniel Ralefeta and Kev Storie

Wonders of Aviation teamed with Mango Airlines In 2014 and announced its first Award winners as part of Mango Airlines’ Career Day at the Swartkops Air Show. By that time, the number of supporting institutions had grown, and Wonders of Aviation benefited from a large number of individuals who volunteered their time and inspiration. The Awards ceremony included speeches by Gert van der Veer, a former CEO of South African Airways, and Sassy N’Diaye, IATA’s first Director for Africa and the Indian Ocean.

2015 saw Wonders of Aviation became a registered non-profit organisation in South Africa. The inaugural meeting of Wonders of Aviation was held on the 19th November 2015 at the Protea Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport. Erik Venter, CEO of Comair Limited was the guest speaker at the inaugural meeting stating that Wonders of Aviation is a wonderful initiative aimed at creating awareness of aviation amongst the previously disadvantaged youth and developing them to become part of the industry. At this meeting objectives for the organization were adopted:

  • Help South Africa’s previously disadvantaged youth who demonstrate a love and enthusiasm for aviation to pursue a career in aviation.

  • Mentors and role models are available to provide support and encouragement to these youth.

  • Support South Africa’s aviation companies and industry associations with their outreach programs for previously disadvantaged youth.

  • Provide a forum for sharing educational and training ideas.

  • Create a community of aviation volunteers.

Wonders of Aviation Award recipients, mentors, and role models

Wonders of Aviation is a community of aviation professionals who are committed to training tomorrow’s aviation leaders, and to providing ongoing education for Wonders of Aviation Award recipients, mentors, and role models.

The South African government is committed to having South African institutions reflect the composition of that country’s population. This commitment is implemented though policies and laws that support outreach programmes, as well as, the education and training of the previously disadvantaged.

Wonders of Aviation is committed to helping these South African institutions by supporting the development of future leaders who have been identified by those institutions. When an institution selects an Aviation Award recipient, that institution commits to covering the out-of-pocket costs of that winner’s participation in the training and educational activities provided by Wonders of Aviation, and providing a mentor for that Award winner. These institutions are also the source of employment for the future leaders.

Supporting institutions have four roles:

  • The first is providing unique aviation experiences, such as flying a commercial aircraft simulator or touring a control tower. These in-kind gifts were worth more than R120,000 during 2017;

  • The second is providing volunteer time, which exceeded 3,000 hours during 2017;

  • The third is to select an Award winner; and

  • The fourth is to train Award winners.

Wonders of Aviation relies on the aviation industry to identify high potential students who become the Wonders of Aviation Award recipients.

Award recipients learn about the aviation industry by participating in sessions that include a tour of an air traffic control tower; a ride in a helicopter; experience flying a plane either in an Airbus or Boeing flight simulator; instruction in gliding, and a flight in a glider; learning about aeronautical engineering and a tour of the Wits supersonic lab.

Award recipients are also taught how to help with outreach efforts, how to be mentors, and how to be a role model to future Award recipients. Wonders of Aviation works with supporting organisations to assist Award recipients in securing employment within the industry.


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