“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return,” once said Leonardo Da Vinci.
The goal is to stay focused and live your dream.
The above statement is a testimony to 19-year old Seth Van Beek, who became Zimbabwe’s youngest pilot at the age of 18.
Play Ground caught up with the United Kingdom-based Van Beek, also known as ‘Seth The Pilot’ by his peers.
Van Beek believes that being raised by a single parent made him a stronger person.
“My sister Hannah (15) and I were raised by a single mother, Frances. I was born in London but raised in Bulawayo. I did my primary education at Carmel in Bulawayo and secondary at Christian Brothers College.
“I have recently been named the youngest qualified commercial pilot and I am currently looking for employment as a first officer at an airline or in aviation business.
“My dream, from a young age, was to be a commercial pilot because of my love and passion for aviation. I also wanted to break a world record. That is what pushed me to start a career at such a young age,” he said this week.
Van Beek hopes to inspire other children in Africa that, no dream is too hard to achieve if one puts one’s mind to it.
“My main role model is my mother, because of the many sacrifices she made for us as a family in order to give us the best quality of life. “Along my journey, I have met many people who have been influential to my career and life as a whole, especially my high school teachers but particularly, Mr J Sibanda.
“I want to be a force to reckon with, empowering and inspiring other children in Africa to believe that they can still do it, by just putting their mind to it,” he explained.
Many of his high school peers were surprised to hear that he was finally a pilot, but for his part, he believes that he owes the success to God.
“I can’t say that I have achieved my goal. I am still learning and need to be ahead. My friends were surprised to learn that I am now a pilot because throughout high school I spoke about it and many people took it with a ‘pinch of salt’. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to inspire other young men and women.”
For his flight training, he went to a school in Greece called Egnatia aviation and graduated at 18 years old.
He is using the current lockdown as opportunity to discover himself.
“The lockdown has been fairly good. It has given me time to work on a project I am developing to assist aspiring pilots in and around Africa and the rest of the world who do not come from an aviation background or have no idea on how to become a commercial pilot.
“I will take the opportunity to engage with my fans and those who want to know more about how to fly planes. Follow me on my social media on Instagram @seth_vanbeek_ or @seth_thepilot.
“The lockdown is starting to slowly ease off in London and I was hoping to come to Zimbabwe on holiday as well to talk to aspiring pilots as the time is drawing near for upper sixth students to go to university.
“I was hoping to come and assist the ones who would like to become a pilot because personally I faced many difficulties finding a flight school and if I could make it easier for someone else I would be more than happy to,” he shared.
If he had not succeeded at being a pilot he would have become a lawyer.
Van Beek becomes the second Zimbabwean teenager to qualify as a pilot.
The first was Simbarashe Machigere, who was awarded a commercial pilot licence at the age of 19 in May last year (2019). Machigere was awarded the licence by the East African Aviation School, which is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Machigere was born on July 3, 1999, in Bindura, to Mr Saston Mapfaka Machigere, who at the time of his son acquiring the pilot’s licence was Minister-Counsellor at the Zimbabwean Embassy in Ethiopia. He attended Shashi Primary School before proceeding to the Greek Community High School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.