…Meet Nampol’s only female Senior Pilot
WHEN most girls talk about what they want to be when they grow up, “pilot” is hardly mentioned. So when now Nampol’s Senior Pilot – Deputy Commissioner Florentina Dumbu at the age of 11 decided she wanted to soar above the clouds, she knew she had her work cut out for her. Today at 27 years of age, Dumbu is crisscrossing the skies after excelling at the top of her classes even when her peers doubted her. As the only senior female pilot at Nampol’s Air Wing Directorate that can operate the force’s biggest helicopter – EC145, Dumbu is an example of how far opportunities for women have advanced and what they can achieve when they set their sights sky high. In an interview with Confidente recently, Dumbu talked about her journey in the aviation industry, how women can strive in any male-dominated industry, and her love for travelling and despite risks associated with the profession, her determination to succeed keeps her flying high.
Give us a snapshot of who you are?
I am a Flight Training Officer and one of the senior pilots in the Namibian Police Air. I was born in Windhoek and bred in Rundu. I did my schooling in Rundu. I moved to Windhoek right after my 17th birthday to pursue my tertiary education.
Briefly tell us about your upbringing?
My family played an imperative role in the formation of who I am today. I grew up in a big family. My parents were a very warm and accommodative couple and always took in my extended family to live with us. Since I was exposed to such different personalities, it made it easier to figure out what my likes and dislikes were. My parents were very strict with us while growing up. This helped me have a good set of principles and values, and be disciplined enough to stick to them.
As a child, my parents always made sure that I knew the value of education. They always encouraged me to study hard. My parents instilled in me the drive to want to succeed. Their motto is: “If you want to do something, do it right or don’t bother doing it at all.” That, coupled with having competitive siblings, turned me into a woman who does not believe in mediocrity. I always wanted to be a change-maker by inspiring young people, especially girls; play my part in the development of this country by letting the youth know, whether directly or indirectly, that there is more to life than being average.
As a child, what were your ambitions?
One quiet Saturday afternoon, I was about 11 years old; I watched a documentary about the first black woman to go into space. Her name was Mae Jemison. She was the first African-American astronaut. I watched how she gracefully floated in zero gravity while doing her work in the rocket. At that moment, I decided I was going to become an astronaut.
What triggered your interest in aviation?
After high school, I came to the bitter realisation of how hard it was going to be for me to pursue my dream of becoming an astronaut. It was a very rare field to study, let alone unaffordable for my parents, and there were no opportunities for me. I spent about a year at the University of Namibia where I did pure science, majoring in biology and chemistry. That same year, one of my sisters called me with very exciting news. She asked if I was interested in getting into the aviation industry. We applied for a scholarship and I was the only female in the country that year to get one of the scholarships. In 2007, I did my pilot training at the Namibian Aviation Training Academy. About three years later, I had a Commercial Pilot License (Aeroplane) with Instrument Rating. Beginning of 2010, just shortly before I graduated from the Namibian Aviation Training Academy, I was head-hunted by my commander. He asked me if I wanted to pursue a career in the Police as a helicopter pilot. After I accepted the offer, I was sent to Starlite Aviation in Durban, South Africa for about 8 months where I did training for a Commercial Pilot License (Helicopter) with an integrated mountain and tactical flying course. The following year I was trained as a Police Officer at Pius Joseph Kaundu Police Training Centre. I worked as a Junior Pilot for the Namibian Police. After I attained the necessary experience, I was promoted to Senior Pilot and have been until now. Last year, I did my helicopter Instructor Rating at Starlite Aviation in Mossel Bay, South Africa. I am now also in charge of flight crew training at the Nampol Air Wing.
What do you like most about your career?
One of the many things I enjoy a lot about my job is that no two days are the same due to the extensive variety of our operations. Our core function at the Air Wing is to give air support to the other units in the Police Force. I can do a Search and Rescue in the Fish River Canyon today, attend to an armed robbery tomorrow, hoist very heavy cargo onto a mou
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