She’s always known that she’d like to be a pilot; this December Lisa Burger will join the NAC Helicopter’s team and finally live out her dream to fly. Joining as the second female to fly for NAC Helicopters, Lisa has an informative insight for those considering a pilot career:
Have you always known that you wanted to be a pilot when you were growing up?
Yes. That’s always been a dream since I was a little girl.
Is working for a helicopter company something that you’ve planned?
I actually saw Frankie’s post on Facebook [laughs], and I was studying to be a pilot at the time, so I thought ‘okay, this is probably a good place to work’. Because I wasn’t doing anything at the time, I decided to work and study, something to do in my free time.
Does anyone in your family fly.
Nope, I just knew that it’s something that I wanted to do.
How does your family feel about your choice of career?
It was actually my mom who suggested that I try flying, and then it was the thing to do for quite a few years. At one point, I almost gave up on my dream because it’s so expensive. That lead me to try other things but in the end, I just wanted to fly.
What is the process like when obtaining your pilot licence?
Firstly, you have to find a flight school and start by learning to fly privately. You have to fly a certain amount of hours and then you get your private licence, which is nice because you can fly your friends around. From there you continue to fly to build experience.
Do you have to do a certain amount of hours?
In order to qualify you need 200 hours of flying experience, which takes a long time to accumulate, as you have to pay per hour to fly. On the other hand, there’s a lot to learn, which includes eight exams. You have to pace yourself through the hours and the times. For me, it took about two and a half years to complete my 200 hours.
So where did you do your training lessons?
I did all my training at the airport with an instructor.
What’s it like getting into the seat for the first time?
It’s scary, and you feel so stiff because you know you have someone next to you for your first 25 hours. Then they send you solo; that’s when it feels challenging.
Can you describe a little more about your first solo flight?
You pick a perfect day, like today, no wind and no clouds. Then you have to do three perfect circuits with an instructor. And when he/she is happy then you can do your own three circuits.
So when did you finally qualify as a pilot?
I qualified a month ago [October]. I officially start flying from December , which I can’t wait for.
Is it true that you have to train to fly different helicopters?
Yes, you have to fly one or two hours with an instructor before you can fly a particular helicopter.
Is there a specific place you’d like to fly to when you start in December?
Right now, I’m just excited to be in the air, but of course, my favourite is to fly over the Winelands.
How is it to work for NAC?
Working for NAC is an amazing experience, and when I started here, they helped a lot with my training.
Does it ever feel intimidating because all the pilots are men?
Kim is actually a female pilot, so at least there is another female pilot, so I don’t feel alone or intimidated.
Would you ever consider changing over to do commercial airlines?
I wouldn’t mind flying a plane – it looks cool.
Lastly, what’s your favourite thing about flying?
I love the challenge, (flying) it isn’t the easiest thing to do and obviously you become more confident as you gain experience, but still you always have to be sharp, which is nice, I like that. Most of all, it’s so enjoyable being up in the sky, it’s the feeling of being in control and doing what you want. It’s about you flying that thing. It’s so amazing to fly at 2000 feet inside a bubble [laughs].