Welcome to Wonders of Aviation (USA)

Wonders of Aviation (WOA USA), IRS NPO# 75236162037, is a not-for-profit organisation (NPO) that uses aviation to inspire young adults to have a life-long love of learning. WOA USA currently operates primarily in South Africa. Our mission is to provide women and the underprivileged an equal opportunity in aviation.

Wonders of Aviation South Africa (WOA SA), NPO# 20201607342408, is an NPO that uses the magic of flight to inspire and educate previously disadvantaged youth about the aviation industry, and to engender a lifelong love of learning.  WOA SA supports the aviation industry’s outreach programs that encourage learners to consider a career in aviation, while focusing its efforts on individuals who we hope will become mentors and future aviation industry leaders. 

WOA SA demographics

WOA SA targets two demographics: 

  1. High potential individuals who receive leadership training and are shown the diversity of employment opportunities in aviation through our Educational Aviation Awards initiative. In addition, they assume leadership positions in WOA as part of our learn-by-doing ethos.
  2. The broader population, which participates in our activities by registering with our LinkedIn affinity group. This social media site provides employment opportunities with sponsoring institutions, training on how to build a resume, information regarding aviation events, and opportunities to increase their knowledge.

WOA SA 2017 Awards

WOA SA’s work in South Africa recently received two major recognitions:

  1. The Aeronautical Society of South Africa awarded Donald Schenk the John Weston Award for Wonders of Aviation’s work in helping develop human capital.
  2. The Aero Club of South Africa awarded Daniel Ralefeta its Silver Wings Award for the work Daniel Ralefeta does with the Aero Club’s Transformation and Development division, which exposes thousands of youngsters to aviation.

In addition, the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is preparing a documentary on how WOA transformed Gift Kgadima into the leader he is today. 

Objectives of Wonders of Aviation (USA)

WOA USA's objectives are to:
  • Demonstrate that aviation provides opportunities for everyone irrespective of their gender, race, or creed.
  • Help teenagers who demonstrate a love and enthusiasm for aviation.
  • Support existing educational initiatives and help new ones get started.
  • Find ways to minimize educational costs by using underutilized assets.
  • Help design metrics for measuring effectiveness.
  • Be a forum for sharing information and ideas.
  • Be source of mentors and role models.
  • Create a community of aviation volunteers.
The Wright Brothers created the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing. The airplane became the first World Wide Web, bringing people, languages, ideas, and values together. Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft Corporation 

WOA SA 2018

In 2018 WOA SA will support a robust programme for high potential individuals. 

The winners of the 2018 Educational Aviation Awards will participate in several activities, including: flying Airbus and Boeing simulators; visiting the OR Tambo International Airport Control Tower; flying gliders; and other hands-on experiences. They will receive leadership training, such as: critical thinking; business writing; and entrepreneurial training, and they will participate in industry-sponsored events in townships where the most underprivileged are exposed to aviation. 

WOA SA relies on volunteers for most of its work, and on industry to provide free use of surplus capacity on simulators and wind tunnels. However, WOA SA covers costs such as transport, food, materials, and housing for multi-day events. 

The 2018 WOA SA expenses are expected to total R1,600,000, with two thirds being provided by South African supporters. 

Who we are

WOA is the creation of aviation enthusiasts in South Africa and the USA. It initially involved soaring enthusiasts who became friends at the World Soaring Championships in Uvalde Texas in 2012. Mark Huffstutler and Marion Griffith from the US, and Dick Bradley from South Africa, believed that soaring provided inspiration and a cost-effective way to train pilots. Read more...

How we do it

WOA is a community of aviation professionals who are committed to training tomorrow’s aviation leaders, and to providing ongoing education for WOA Award recipients, mentors, and role models. The South African government is committed to having South African institutions reflect the composition of that country’s population. Read more...


WOA relies on the aviation industry to identify high potential students who become the Wonders of Aviation Award recipients. Award recipients learn about the aviation industry by participating in sessions that include a tour of an air traffic control tower, a ride in a helicopter, experience flying a plane either in an Airbus or Boeing flight simulator, instruction in gliding. Read more...

SA Book Share Programme

WOA has initiated a book share education programme, started by retired aviators who live on Bainbridge Island, Seattle, USA. They all loved aviation and wanted to provide a connection between themselves and Wonders of Aviation in South Africa. These people have been leaders in some aspect of aviation and have given us books that were important to each of them. Read more...

Award Winners/Our accomplishments are our people

Featured 2018 Award Winner 

 Boitumelo 'Tumi' Katisi 
Nominated by the Aero Club of South Africa

" My name is Boitumelo 'Tumi' Katisi. I am a private pilot with Loutzavia Flight School at Rand Airport. I first discovered my love for aviation in 2008. I had a Life Orientation school assignment to visit a workplace for a day, and I was fortunate to have an aunt who worked at South African Airways who could take me for a day to see how they operate - and that's when the aviation bug bit me. I am currently sponsored by three well know yet awesome companies: Anglo American ZA, Breitling and E Oppenheimer & Sons. I dream of flying the A380-800 for one of the worlds leading airlines and owning my own fleet of private jets charter company. In 2014, I had the opportunity to fly a private jet, the Embraer Phenom 300, as co-pilot with Captain Bekker from Lanseria Airport. I am passionate about aviation, and I reach out to the youth to fulfill and chase their dreams." 

Tumi's awards include: Most Dedicated Student of the Year 2014 with Loutzavia Flight School, Rand Airport; and named Most Aspiring Pilot of 2015 by Matthew C. Martino, aviation guru and philanthropist. She is a motivational speaker and inspiration to many. In 2014, she featured on YFM Radio talk show with Mo Flava; on Eldos FM Radio talk show; and again with Mo Flava on Metro FM Radio talk show. In 2015, she was profiled in the Sunday World Newspaper. 

Tumi is one of the founders of Aviation Development in Africa (ADA), an NGO established in 2015 with 10 members. ADA have set up the Young Aviators Fund to raise finance for previously disadvantaged aspiring pilots.

Visit our 2018 Award Winners page for more inspirational Award winners.


 Meet Tumi | 100% Character Uncovered  

Universal Channel is shining a light on people from around Africa who inspire others through their determination and extraordinary character. These rare individuals have the spark to dream big, matched with a steely resolve to pursue that dream with unwavering commitment. They are authentic, talented and have 100% character.

What does it take to chase your dream against the odds?  Boitumelo Katisi (‘Tumi to her friends!) is an inspirational 23 year old South African who has fought against the odds to achieve her dream of becoming a pilot. It is highly unusual to see women pilots in Africa and as it stands today she is one of only 2% of black women pilots in South Africa, out of an incredible17 000 pilots...full article here.

Media Center


 AASA News 

AASA sponsors WOA's attendance at 48th Annual General Assembly
WOA news. October 2018

The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) will hold its 48th AGA from 11 to 14 October 2018, at the AVANI Victoria Falls Resort in Livingstone, Zambia. The theme of the AGA is Enabling African Airline Service Excellence. AASA is sponsoring the attendance of Gift Kgadima (WOA General Secretary), Keanu Schubert (WOA Mentor) and Mahlatsi Hlongwane (WOA Mentor) to the 3-day annual event. Comair Limited is sponsoring their flights. 

 ISTAT Foundation Grant 

In August, WOA gratefully received a US$7,400 grant from the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading Foundation (ISTAT) to develop a Student LinkedIn Resumes database of future aviators. 

The grant is the result of Donald Schenk, Vees Lohan and Judith Driver’s joint efforts. The WOA team is determined to transform WOA from an institution having a significant impact on a few very high potential learners into an organisation that also helps the thousands of learners who visit all the outreach programmes our sponsors and investors support each year. 

 SABC Education Documentary: iSpana 9, Episode 2 

Gift Kgadima: Aerobatic Pilot
SABC Education Shows. Flighted May 2018

iSpani is a reality documentary that takes viewers into the world of work. Each week a candidate tries his or her hand at a chosen career. iSpani takes the viewer into environments offering candidates positions at entry level, creating awareness of the academic, personal and training requirements in the specific field.

This iSpani documentary followed Gift Kgadima, aerobatic pilot and Wonders of Aviation Secretary General.



 National Geographic Wildlife Watch 

Watch a Dramatic Elephant Rescue 
A young elephant was saved from drowning in a manmade structure in a Zimbabwe national park by a team that is using drones to deter poaching.
By Brian Clark Howard for National Geographic, 1 November 2016

An anti-poaching team saved a young elephant from drowning this month, and it was caught on video. The rescue was made by the Air Shepherd team in Zimbabwe's vast Hwange National Park.

Air Shepherd is a partnership between the Lindbergh Foundation and the company UAV and Drone Solutions, which is working to deter poachers in Hwange and other parks around Africa.

During an early morning scouting mission, Air Shepherd drone pilots Tom Lautenbach and Gift Kgadima were driving in Hwange, getting a feel for the land that they have been flying their drones over for the past few weeks...

Read the full article: news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/11/elephant-rescued-well-zimbabwe-hwange-national-park/ 

Video published with permission granted by Erik Lindbergh of the Lindbergh Foundation.

Success is not measured by what a man accomplishes, but by the opposition he has encountered and the courage with which he has maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds. Charles Lindbergh, first solo transatlantic flight, pioneering aviator, military officer, author, inventor, explorer and environmental activist