The road that lead me to Aircraft Maintenance Engineering.

Updated: Mar 18, 2020

Gofaone Timothy

I’ve had a love for airplanes for as long as I could remember. My dad was a soldier for the Botswana Defense Force (BDF) and whenever they used to prepare for the Consumer Fair I was there by his side. BDF would showcase their helicopters and heavy machinery, which was unfailingly amazing.

With all the free airplane rides I used get with my father while he was traveling around Botswana, I could say my passion was sparked from there on.

From around the age of 10 I used to tell my parents that I was going be a pilot when I grew up. My bedroom wall had a plane flying through some white clouds with the words painted ,”Pilot Gofaone Timothy, flying high like the angel she is.”. I wish I took a picture of it before I repainted the walls…

Becoming a pilot was the ultimate goal, although I didn’t know how I was going to achieve it, I knew that was what I wanted to do. Working around aircrafts was all I desired and no one could change my mind. Therefore, when I graduated high school I searched for piloting schools in Botswana where the government could provide financial assistance for my education.

However, later on I found out that this was not the case,  the government at the time was not sponsoring students for this particular field. This shattered my dreams instantly. I was basically told to choose a different career path.

Nonetheless, due to excelling at art, mathematics and physics; Architecture was the next best of my options. I applied for the Architectural course at the University of Botswana. Astonishingly, I was among the few selected candidates for the course. Quite honestly, my drive during my time there was not as strong as I wanted it to be. I was not happy at school because I was not doing what I truly wanted. I still desired working with airplanes.

About 2 months into my university life, I was ready to take a leap of faith and leave Architecture behind. Although my family was not happy with my decision, my father was still supportive. He knew that my passion was for Airplanes. We searched for places where I could do piloting and even though the option of going abroad was costly, he wanted me to do something I loved.

During the course of approximately 6 months, my father worked with me in applying to every single school imaginable from South Africa to Canada. I finally got a response! I was accepted to two schools; one in Canada and the other in United Kingdom.

Throughout the preparations to attend school, a friend of my father told him about the school for Aircraft Maintenance in Gaborone called Flying Mission Services- Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Training School (FMS-AMETS). We sat down and discussed this option. My father said to me, “You can always train to be a pilot, but the odds will be more in your favor if you actually dipped your toe into the industry and see what’s happening and how you could go about it.”. He continued, “The course is only 2 years and you’re young so I would advise you to take this opportunity first to actually learn about the Aviation Industry in Botswana.”. It dawned on me that my father had hit the nail on the head. As much as I wanted to be a pilot, I  really didn’t know much about the Aviation Industry in Botswana.

Despite the fact that I applied for the maintenance course late, I successfully pulled through and got accepted. I did an interview and took the aptitude test, all at the same time.  God willingly, I managed to go through and was officially one of their students.

I studied Aircraft Maintenance here off, with the financial support of my parents; which was not cheap. However, in that moment I could feel that my heart was beginning to feel more complete and at ease. Persevering through tough courses , I had never felt so at home. Working on airplanes every single day, hearing them fly over our classes, everything about the school for Maintenance felt magical.

Two years later after graduating and realizing that I enjoy working with my hands a lot, I felt content . Therefore, I decided to keep going on with Aircraft Maintenance and that I can become a pilot later on in life.

The fact that there are not a lot of women in this industry gave me the courage and confidence to stay in Maintenance and be one of the first few females to break into this male dominated industry.

I applied for a job in Maun at Northern Air Maintenance, and just 2 months after graduation I started working there. The place was really great and accommodating, honestly because my colleagues were determined to help me grow more so because I was a woman in a predominantly male dominating industry. My maintenance trainer; Ben Nyatoti also known as grandpa Ben, really made it his mission to pass on his knowledge onto me. This made my work days very fun and encouraging every single day. Which in my opinion, was the best way to learn.

My advice to younger girls is to always do something you love, because it will drive you day in and day out. You should not be afraid to go after careers that have been deemed male dominant.

Right now  my future goals and aspirations are to get an Engineer’s License, continue growing professionally in the field, obtain a Private Pilot’s License (PPL) and possibly a Commercial Pilot’s License (CPL).

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