• The Heroine Project

Fatima Jakoet: The commercial pilot

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

Fatima Jakoet @fatimaj777, is a First Officer with South African Airways @flysaa, where she flies domestic routes. She tells us that she started her career as a forensic scientist and that one day during a drug bust at Cape Town International Airport, she looked up at a Boeing 747, and decided that she needed "to be in control of it". The road to becoming a pilot and eventually a captain is a long and stressful one - as a pilot, you are assessed every six months to determine if you are still fit for duty. Fatima embarked on this journey in 2001 and is half way, from a time perspective, to becoming a captain. She explains that shortly after 9/11, because of her head scarf, she experienced discrimination - with both co-pilots and passengers expressing concern about flying with her. This period required her to toughen up mentally in order to shut out the noise and focus on her dream so as to ensure that she was always fit to fly.

She is also the founder of the Sakhikamva Foundation @sakhikamva_foundation, a non profit organisation that is involved in aviation awareness and skills development for the youth and children in the aerospace industry. The Foundation believes that the future of South African aerospace industry is anchored with the country’s highly talented youth, its mission being to identify and develop this talent in ensuring that a solid foundation is laid to feed the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pipeline.

Fatima has a fear of heights which sounds contradictory given that she is a pilot but it doesn't come into play when she is flying as she's in control of the aircraft. We are inspired by Fatima's story because she fearlessly transitioned her career in following her dream of becoming a pilot and continued to persevere during a very trying time. Added to that, she is now paying it forward with her aviation foundation.

Featured artist: Caroline du Toit @runitscaro


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