We are excited to welcome Nicole Robertson to the AMS Cadet Development Programme. Nicole, a born and bred Capetonian says she always had a passion for flying, although “I only realised it at a later stage in my life.” The AMS Cadet Development Programme was established as part of the organisation’s contribution to the development of future leaders in our country. The programme focuses on developing young pilots by providing them with an opportunity to build their knowledge and experience with access to industry leading training and dedicated staff. To date this programme has seen 20 cadets realise their dream. When asked why she chose this field, Nicole responded “I remember growing up and loving the feeling of being thrown up into the air and being caught by my dad or mom. I was also known as the clumsy one, because I would try anything and everything that your average girl wouldn’t. I was brought up in a loving home, with parents who motivated me and my sister that anything you want you can achieve.” Here’s a glimpse into Nicole’s world …
only fly in a small plane for the first time, but also take the controls. After those two days, there was nothing else I wanted to do. The freedom of being able to take to the skies, and the quiet and serenity of seeing the busyness of life evaporate the moment you leave the ground, and getting a sense of peace, and adrenaline all at the same time, were all things I desired to have as part of my daily life. I have been a qualified commercial pilot for nine years and have worked various jobs in an attempt to work my way up to a professional career as an aviation pilot. Going from flight attendant to flight operations at a flight school, to interviews for cadet programmes, to flying drones, all to prove that I will do whatever it takes to get the job, has been extremely frustrating. Having said that, as I look back there was a reason for every single season I went through.
I lost my mother at the end of 2020, and it was the hardest knock I have taken in my entire life. The person who had always believed I would achieve great things, and was so interested in my flying career was no longer there. However, I feel God opened doors in all areas for me a few months later. I got an amazing job at Quemic Africa, and shortly after I started there, they agreed to let me volunteer for AMS as well. I always wanted my job to be meaningful, and to add value, so this is truly prayers answered.
Tell us about your interests outside of flying, your dislikes, and if you have a motto you live by
I love the outdoors, especially the ocean or an open body of water. Stand up paddle boarding, body boarding, swimming or just being surrounded by streams of water is my go to on a warm day. In winter, I enjoy a good wine tasting in front of a cosy fireplace. I also value spending time with my family.
Dislikes … I don’t have many but some are, littering, warm tomatoes and rude people. My motto in life well … I have two, always put God first in whatever you do and challenges make you stronger; even a plane has to take off into the wind.
What motivates you?
My family. My parents have laid a very steadfast foundation, and they have worked hard, and encouraged me every step of the way while completing my Commercial Pilot License. I was taught that great rewards come from hard work and perseverance. That, and having a steadfast faith.
Tell us about your role at AMS
I will be volunteering as a pilot on the PC12, and assisting Jeffrey with some filing and admin (but that’s in exchange for good coffee, he just doesn’t know it yet).
Tell us about your experience at AMS thus far
I haven’t been at AMS for very long, I am still finding my way around and getting to know everyone. People, in my opinion, make the place. Every single person at AMS has been extremely friendly and welcoming. I immediately felt like I was already part of the family. It’s so refreshing to walk into a workplace where everyone is friendly and is eager to assist you with whatever you may require.
How far are you with your training?
I’ve only recently started my flight training on the PC12. As daunting as my first flight was, I cannot wait to be completely familiar with this advanced aircraft, that I have already fallen in love with.
Why have you chosen to become part of the AMS team?
As I have previously stated, I have always desired that my job add value. I did not choose AMS. I believe in the right time, the right doors are opened, and that is exactly what happened. Knowing that I am not only flying because it is my passion, but that I am also combining my passion with life-threatening needs of others, gives me the greatest sense of fulfillment. I’ve been in situations where I couldn’t do anything, and the mere thought that, while gaining valuable experience is important, I’ll also be doing my best to help others is encouraging.
How have you dealt with the challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic?
This pandemic hit us all like a ton of bricks. But at first, I welcomed the the lockdown with open arms. All of a sudden all the animals were suddenly free to roam, and there was this beautiful silence with no cars on the road. Personally, I was able to spend a significant amount of time with my family, time that we would not have had otherwise. I think lockdown has changed my perspective on how busy and complicated we make our lives, when really it’s the little things that actually matter. If anything, it has reminded me of what is important, who truly matters, and what to hold on to, as well as to take the time to simply breathe, because at the end of the day, you cannot control everything.
How do you unwind at the end of each day to manage your workload and avoid burnout?
I try to read a book, which usually lasts no more than two pages before I fall asleep, or I watch a series. If I have a nice early day, I do enjoy cooking with a glass of wine and some jazz music.
What advice would you give to young aspiring women?
You can achieve anything you put your heart to. Yes, your heart. Where you treasure is, there your heart will also be, and so if you’re passionate about something, pursue it wholeheartedly. There is always a way to achieve even your wildest dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done; dream big. There is a reason and purpose for why you have a burning desire to accomplish that which you have set out to do. Remember, even a plane has to take off into the wind!