2015 Award Winners/our accomplishments are our people

Gift Kgadima

Gift Kgadima is a product of the Aero Club’s T&D team and was one of WOA’s first Award Winners.

  • He demonstrates the leadership we hope to see in all our team. 
  • He has been given leadership positions at Cornerstone College where he learned to fly drones. 
  • He has been given responsibility for some of the Aero Club’s activities and was responsible for the 2017 collaboration with CSIR in organising the Wind Tunnel Tour.
  • He is a Schenk Family Award Winner, was elected Secretary of WOA in 2017, and has been awarded a bursary by WOA to help him pursue his pilot training.
  • AASA sponsored his attendance at their Annual General Assembly this year.
  • He also spent time flying drones for Air Shepherd an organization supported by the Lindbergh Foundation that uses drones to protect elephants in Africa.

The Lindbergh Foundation

The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation was created in 1977, the 50th Anniversary year of Charles Lindbergh’s epic New York-to-Paris flight (the first solo transatlantic flight). It was originated by friends of the Lindberghs at The Explorers Club in New York City and other friends and admirers.  

Their intent was to honor the Lindberghs’ pioneering contributions in aviation, exploration, conservation, sciences, and the humanities. Knowing the Lindberghs’ vision of a balance between the technological advancements they helped pioneer, and the preservation of the human and natural environments they cherished, it was decided that this balance vision would become the cornerstone of the Foundation’s programs. Ever since, the Foundation has strived to carry on the concept of balance, through the Lindbergh Award, the A. Morrow Lindbergh Award, the Corporate Award for Balance, the Spirit Awards, Grants Programme and other educational programmes and publications.

The Lindbergh Foundation supports the use of drones to protect elephants in Africa. In 2016, Gift Kgadima spent a few months in Zimbabwe flying drones for Air Shepherd an organization supported by the Lindbergh Foundation and his exploits were covered by National Geographic.
Sources: Wikimedia and the Lindbergh Foundation.

Success is not measured by what a man accomplishes, but by the opposition he has encountered and the courage with which he has maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds. Charles Lindbergh, first solo transatlantic flight, pioneering aviator, military officer, author, inventor, explorer and environmental activist 

National Geographic Wildlife Watch

Watch a Dramatic Elephant Rescue 
A young elephant was saved from drowning in a manmade structure in a Zimbabwe national park by a team that is using drones to deter poaching.
By Brian Clark Howard for National Geographic, 1 November 2016

An anti-poaching team saved a young elephant from drowning this month, and it was caught on video. The rescue was made by the Air Shepherd team in Zimbabwe's vast Hwange National Park.

Air Shepherd is a partnership between the Lindbergh Foundation and the company UAV and Drone Solutions, which is working to deter poachers in Hwange and other parks around Africa.

During an early morning scouting mission, Air Shepherd drone pilots Tom Lautenbach and Gift Kgadima were driving in Hwange, getting a feel for the land that they have been flying their drones over for the past few weeks...
Read the full article: news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/11/elephant-rescued-well-zimbabwe-hwange-national-park/

Frans Monakisi

Frans Monakisi grew up in Mamelodi dreaming of becoming a pilot. However, he has been unable to obtain the funds to begin training.

  • Don Schenk has spent a lot of time mentoring him on what he should do and what he should know in order to make an informed decision. In the mean time he has continued to develop his skills as a poet, attend outreach events where he provides inspirational talks, and mentor award winners.
  • He is a published poet.  

Orifha Mbedzi

Orifha Mbedzi lives in Thohoyandou, Venda, which is located in Limpopo. He is currently a senior at the Thohoyandou Technical High School. He uses his affiliation with Wonders of Aviation as one of its award winners to make connections with the industry, and those connections enable him to pursue his dream in spite of the isolation of Thohoyandou. He uses his free time to develop his computer programming skills, which he hopes to use in the aviation industry. He keeps his dream of becoming a pilot alive by studying flight training manuals, and engaging with Microsoft's Flight Simulator X. 

  • Orifha is a great example of the power of WOA. He lived in Limpopo and could not participate in any of our Awards because WOA had no funds (and he was equally poor). His dream was to become a pilot and Don Schenk mentored him as best he could from 13,000 miles away. 
  • At the end of his matric year, they discussed his options, one of which was to attend the University of Pretoria and study computer science or set university aside and try to find a way to become a pilot. They decided that he was being given a wonderful opportunity to attend this university, where he started last year.
  • Don offered him the opportunity to experience our awards one year later, and he jumped at the opportunity. He has done so well that he has been invited to teach a first year computer course.
  • He is an existing WOA mentor, and has offered to provide a leadership development course in computers to WOA.

Thenyisa Krishna

Thenysia Krishna was born in Durban and spent most of her life in Benoni Johannesburg. She attended Boksburg High School from which she matriculated in 2009 with a distinction in Travel and Tourism. Ms. Krishna graduated from Standford Business and Computer Design College in Durban in 2013. She also received her cabin crew licence at Skyy Aviation in May 2013, after which she was accepted on a Learnership at CDK Learning Academy. Ms. Krishna’s professional career at Comair Limited began with acceptance by Comair Limited to complete a Workplace Experiential Learning assignment. In 2014, she was offered full-time employment as a Customer Services Agent. In 2015 she was appointed the Ground Staff Uniform Ambassador, and in 2016 she was promoted to a flight attendant position domiciled in Cape Town, which was her dream.