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Fly high with Namene

23 July 2012

Air NamibiaWHEN you look up to the sky at the plane flying above you, what images of the pilot do you have? Certainly not that a woman could be in control of the machine flying so high.

Air Namibia pilot Namene Mbumba is one such woman who is part of a team of men and women who consider the sky as part of their work environment. This week she shared her perspectives on the aviation industry in Namibia with the Windhoek Observer.


The airbuses that fly thousands of metres high in the sky usually make the man on the ground look up twice in awe because people consider aviation as one of the complex industries in the world.

Contrary to popular belief, however, most people think that flying an airplane or aircraft is like driving a taxi.

Mbumba says although both industries involve transporting people from one point to another; aviation brings more experience to both a pilot and a passenger.

“We fly to around 18 different destinations, both on domestic and regional routes which is quite an experience.

“You get to see different environments.

You find that today you fly to Walvis Bay where it might be raining and tomorrow you fly to Katima Mulilo where it could be a bit humid.”The domestic routes she flies are Ondangwa, Walvis Bay, Rundu, Katima Mulilo, Oranjemund and Luderitz while the regional routes include South Africa, Botswana Zimbabwe and Zambia.

She flies a 37-seater ERJ 135 airbus.

Mbumba says her first time in a plane was normal, “Because you start off with an instructor, so you’re not entirely on your own.”

She has however not experienced any “May Day” situations including emergency landings since becoming a pilot.

“As a pilot, there are certain procedures you have to know and follow because at the end of the day when you are sitting up there, you have no time to think about certain possibilities because you only have a few seconds to react and make a decision during emergencies.

“Emergencies happen, but we are well trained for them,” she said.

The 27-year old pilot describes herself as a “family woman with a career”.

“By family I don’t mean I am married. I am referring to my parents. I am very close to my father and I remember the day I flew a plane for the first time, I called him immediately after and shared the news with him.

“Even at 27, I am still daddy’s girl and I have always looked up to my father.”

If given the opportunity one day to pursue a different career path, Namene says she would take up teaching.

“When you look at our education system today, especially in early childhood development, you find that most teachers are fed up of the job and no longer teach with a passion.

“I would like to get a degree in education and be a part of the education system and make a difference.

“I love flying. It is my passion but children are at the core of my heart. I would like to be a teacher in future and work especially with the young ones because I believe that early childhood development is vital in any person’s upbringing,” she said.

For young people wanting to pursue a career in aviation, they should possess traits such as perseverance, hard work, respect and determination.

“The industry is such that you have to work hard for what you want. You can’t give up.“It’s hard breaking into any industry because people are always looking for those with experience, but you just have to be your number one cheerleader, motivate yourself and be passionate about it,” she said.

“It doesn’t matter what profession you do – it is a job. Just like someone wakes up to clean the streets, I wake up in the morning to get on a flight.

“A job should not be [defined] by gender either. I do the same work men do, I get the same salary men get and the same training that they get, and that does not mean we are different,” Mbumba said. – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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