Wonders of Aviation is the creation of aviation enthusiasts in South Africa and the United States. It initially involved soaring enthusiasts who became friends at the World Soaring Championships in Uvalde Texas in 2012. Three of them, Mark Huffstutler and Marion Griffith from the United States, and Dick Bradley from South Africa, believed that soaring provided both inspiration and a cost-effective way to train pilots.
In 2013, Donald Schenk took this idea to South Africa and was introduced to the individuals who transformed this idea into Wonders of Aviation. They include: Kev Storie, Daniel Ralefeta and Dick Bradley of the Aero Club of South Africa; Vees Lochan, CEO of the Airlines Association of Southern Africa; Philip Haupt and Robert Malan of the National Aerospace Center; Frank Majaramhepo of Air Traffic Navigation Services; Yolinda Mooloo of the South African Civil Aviation Authority; Natalie Kyd, Clint Montague, and Moses Tshibalanganda of South African Airways; Dy Moonsammy of Comair Limited; Ben Naidoo of Airports Company South Africa; and two Airbus retirees: Major General Winston Thackeray and Peter Jost.
In 2014, Wonders of Aviation teamed with Mango Airlines and announced its first Award winners as part of Mango Airlines’ Career Day at the Swartkops Air Show. By that time, the number of supporting institutions had grown, and Wonders of Aviation benefited from a large number of individuals who volunteered their time and inspiration. The Awards ceremony included speeches by Gert van der Veer, a former CEO of South African Airways, and Sassy N’Diaye, IATA’s first Director for Africa and the Indian Ocean.
In 2015, Wonders of Aviation became a registered non-profit organisation in South Africa.
The inaugural meeting of Wonders of Aviation was held on the 19th November 2015 at the Protea Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport. Erik Venter, CEO of Comair Limited was the guest speaker at the inaugural meeting stating that Wonders of Aviation is a wonderful initiative aimed at creating awareness of aviation amongst the previously disadvantaged youth and developing them to become part of the industry.
Humans must rise above the earth - to the top of the atmosphere and beyond - for only thus will they fully understand the world in which they live.
Wonders of Aviation believes that the enthusiasm and support of committed mentors and role models is the most effective way of developing the industry’s future leaders. As a result, we rely on volunteers and supporting organisations who provide awards, training, jobs, and funding.
We thank the following organisations who have supported Wonders of Aviation with awards, volunteer time, and/or funding:
- ACA Associates
- Aero Club of South Africa
- African Pilot magazine
- Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa
- Airlines Association of Southern Africa
- Airports Company South Africa
- Air Traffic Navigation Services
- Aviation Towards Success
- Brits Flying Club
- Comair Limited
- Delta Built Environmental Consultants
- Grand Central Airport – Midrand
- Jonker Sailplanes
- National Aerospace Centre
- Mango Airlines
- SA Express
- SAA Technical
- Soaring Magazine
- South African Airways
- South African Civil Aviation Authority
- South African Weather Service