My story : Savanna Boltman

How does a young woman find her feet in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) industries without familial ties or direct connections? Going back to 2016, 15-year-old Savannah had a plethora of questions. I was sceptical about attending an aerospace camp with 120 girls I had never met before. I had no idea then that the Girl Fly Africa (GFA) would impact my life immensely and how it still does to this day.

Not only did the GFPA camp leave me with a complete and clear understanding of what I wanted to do with my career moving forward, but I also went home with a bag bursting at the seams with notes and brochures and the kind of knowledge I wouldn’t have found elsewhere. A grin so wide my cheeks would ache when thinking of the wonderful memories of fun and laughter with the girls around me as we had the chance to practice paragliding skills, build model planes and make composite material designs together. I watched drones operate and learned how to control them and what they were used for. I spoke to pilots and professionals from all different backgrounds and aerospace-related careers and had the chance to ask them all the questions I needed answers to. I learned how blessed it feels to be included in the festivities that other people cherish on the cultural awareness evening. I watched as we all became more confident around each other and shared stories to express our backgrounds and personal interests.

I left that camp with connections to some of the most inspirational and game-changing female professionals in the industry. But I also left the camp with friends from all over the country, whom I will always stay in contact with socially and professionally. Having friends to support and motivate you truly gets you through the tough moments where you need a push and seeing some of my closest friends from the camp become the pilots, air traffic controllers, or engineers they always wanted to be is the most wonderful and inspiring feeling. Girls supporting girls – it is amazing to be a part of that community.

Life after camp
I began my private pilot’s license at the start of matric and went solo in the Cessna 172 before I turned 18 or could drive a car. Knowing my career aspirations helped me push through matric, and I got accepted into the university of my dreams to study a BSc in Aviation Sciences and business (Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, USA). Furthermore, my love for aviation brought me back to the ladies I initially met when I applied to GFA in search of volunteering opportunities. I’ve since assisted in coordinating a camp, done drone demonstrations, and always followed the GFA progress. Fast forward to 2023, I’m 23 years old, and I’ve got four years of work experience- 3 in the Control Tower at Cape Town International Airport as a junior ATC and one-year operating drones and drone camera gimbals in the film industry with my commercial drone license which I obtained in 2020. I have completed my degree with honours and aspire to continue contributing to the aviation industry as I progress in my career. Next on the cards? Finishing my pilot’s license and one day learning to fly helicopters!

I have a love for aviation that words cannot truly express, and I know I do have GFA to thank for sparking that flame. My adventure has been nothing short of magical and overwhelmingly exciting thus far. I look forward to many more experiences to come. I am immensely grateful for all I have gained and experienced, and I wish for others to experience great things too. In this process, the most important lesson I have learned is to be open to all opportunities, take significant strides even when they intimidate you, and support other girls as best you can. There’s something to learn from everyone every day.

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