Hi Jesame, you brought me to tears after reading your questions and knowing your frustration. I can so relate to the struggle of knowing that something is so close and yet feels like it is so far away. As a kid, I fell in love with the F-16 fighter aircraft. I would dream about flying escort missions and such, but as I started high school, I realized that I had many more dreams and goals that I wanted to accomplish. As I worked my way through my last year of high school and very few scholarships came to my doorstep, I looked toward my dream of being a fighter pilot. My heart was broken when I was told that that I didn’t meet the strict requirements that the military wanted at the time. Now, not only could I not pay for school, I didn’t have a plan in mind. I had a mentor and someone interested in helping me find my next step. I was invited on a weekend trip to Tuskegee University and that’s where I saw an F-4 Phantom on display for the first time in my life. I said, to myself that “whatever is studied in this building is what I will do; this is my next step.” As I begin to study Aerospace Science Engineering, I met a classmate that was interested in flying too. He invited me on a trip with him to Birmingham, Alabama. I flew as his unofficial co-pilot/navigator. It was the coolest trip I had ever taken in a C172. From there, I was on my way and it was all about me. I was introduced to the FBO, Colonel RJ Lewis and he introduced me to the best Flight Instructor I’ve ever had, Antonio Smith. I was given a scholarship by the FBO and the local Tuskegee Airmen chapter to complete my Private Pilot’s license. I flew every weekend and during the week when I did not have class. I was so proud of the mentors and network I had developed and even more proud of myself. Then, it was time to get busy and graduate. I had to get focused on getting a job and financing more flight training, but how could I do that? I was in that familiar place of ‘find my next step’. A couple of months from graduation, I contacted my friend and former classmate that took me on the exciting flight to Birmingham, Alabama and asked for advice. He asked for my resume. The week of my birthday, I had two interviews with Boeing to join the Flight Test team in Seattle. Talk about exciting, I was thrilled. Now that I was working as an Engineer and flying during my off time, I started looking for the next step. How do I put both my dreams of being a Professional Pilot and my Engineering career together as one? I started asking about Flight Test Pilots and how to get into that group of Pilots/Engineers. More experience as a Pilot is what I needed, so in the mean time, I’m building time and flying with my next step in mind, Flight Test Pilot.
That’s the short version of my long story, but I say all of that to show you that our passion will not allow us to rest until we do what we are supposed to do as Pilots and Engineers. You will make it! Yes, as you can see, I have certainly felt/feel the same way on my journey. Keep in mind, it is just that a ‘journey’. Your experiences/obstacles are to prepare you to ‘find the next step’. Now, for a little more practical advice, the Women in Aviation chapters in Africa, I think are in Nigeria and Kenya. I’m not sure of your resources of travel, but it is a great place to start looking for scholarships. The 2015 scholarships are now available for applicants to apply. www.wai.org. They are competitive but are well worth the effort of at least applying. There are also the other flight schools there, I’m sure you are familiar with SAFTA and Madiba Bay. I would recommend getting to know some local instructors looking for safety pilots or just building time. They usually enjoy the extra company in the cockpit. Also, check out the Bessie Coleman Aerospace Legacy (formerly Bessie Coleman Foundation) may have scholarships available as well.
Don’t Give Up and know that you are Never Alone on this Journey.