Young Blood for the EAA leadership


President Benjamin Franklin once stated, “If you want a job done properly, give it to a busy man”. The EAA South Africa National body seems to have taken this pearl of wisdom to heart when they elected David Toma as their President.

David Toma photo by Geraldine Calitz

David’s lifelong love affair with aviation started at the age of five, when he experienced his first flight, as with many of us, it was a Boeing 737-200. The aviation bug well and truly sunk its teeth into the young man. At the time David was living in his native Egypt with his parents on the approach to Cairo International Airport. Having airliners and the odd fighter jet constantly overhead fuelled his passion and he couldn’t resist running out every-time an aircraft flew overhead.

Several years after his first unforgettable flight, David’s Father, a medical doctor, was transferred to Francistown in Botswana as part of a medical exchange programme. David completed his schooling at John Mackenzie High School in Botswana and completed his IGSCE and Cambridge AS Level certificates, having taken way more subjects than required by the school to keep his options open as the deal with his father was to pick whichever degree he wanted before he was permitted to fly. This opened up opportunities to study anywhere in the world and nearly any non-accounting/business courses. This was thanks to a special teacher at high school that made David’s mind in that regard. David chose the University Pretoria (Tuks) due to the wonderful hockey astroturf and, which later proved to be a false promise, being able to study to achieve a BEng Aeronautical Engineering degree. David’s mum, however, was pleased as it meant several visits a year as compared to once a year if David was to study back home in Egypt.

The lack of anything aviation within the curriculum pushed David to establish the aviation atmosphere he desired at the university. This he did by becoming the chairperson of the student chapter of the Aeronautical Society at Tuks and growing it to the biggest society on campus for the next 5 years, with the aeronautical society being nearly double the size of the next largest society during that period! In his third year at the University of Pretoria, David started his flying career and by April 2012 he had his PPL. Being as driven as he is, this just wasn’t enough, and so he embarked on his commercial pilots’ license, which he completed in August the following year.

David started attending fly-ins around the country and soon became a familiar face at EAA gatherings. The leadership of the EAA noticed his infectious enthusiasm and approached him to become more involved. When the outgoing National President, Sean Cronin completed his term, David was persuaded to run for the position and was a popular choice.

The energetic 29-year-old is currently juggling many career and recreational balls. Having completed his BEng in Mechanical Engineering specialising in Aeronautics, he is now the Project Certification Engineer on the Falcon 402 project, as well as a flight instructor from ab-initio to turbine training and being involved in the management at Flitecare flight school based at Wonderboom Airport. In his free time, David is Council member of the Aeronautical Society of South Africa with the portfolios of young members and outreach. David, in addition to all this, is currently restoring his own KR-2 (ZS-VVD) which he hopes to grace the skies with soon.

When David embarked on his flying career he like many other young pilots seriously considered taking the airline route, this came to an abrupt end when he realised that airline flying eats up ones FDP leaving hardly any legal time to fly for pleasure. David will be sticking to engineering for the time being with a strong bias towards design and flight testing activities as that combines both of his loves, engineering and flying. David has no intention of abandoning flight instruction and plans to continue inching his way up that ladder.

David never approaches any task without a definite plan and his task at the EAA is no exception, he plans to put the EXPERIMENTAL back into the Experimental Aircraft Association. David recognises that now more than ever aviators find themselves needing numbers in the upcoming advocacy matters, however, he strongly believes that forcing membership of any organisation through regulation is definitely not the way to go. David vision is to rather create an EAA where it would make no sense not to not be a member; rather than membership only being a regulatory obligation as stated in SACARS Part 94 that any operator of an NTCA must be a member of an ARO. In time David hopes to recreate the heyday of the South African EAA, the Margate Conventions with a wide variety of homebuilt aircraft in attendance.

We are looking forward to what this dynamic new talent can bring to the table at the EAA.

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