August 7, 1986
|Education||43 Air School|
|Known for||Being a village girl who flew a plane|
Precious Sibalo is a Zimbabwean commercial pilot, a holder of an Airline Transport Pilots (ATP) licence from 43 Air School in South Africa, the highest level of pilot certification.
Precious Sibalo was born on 07 August 1986 in rural Plumtree, Matabeleland South Province, and raised in Bulawayo’s Magwegwe high-density suburb.
Her mother, Catherine, gave birth to Sibalo when she was only 17 years of age. Catherine, being a single mother, left Precious in her parents' care to work as a maid in South Africa.
She sent home money for Precious' schooling and the young girl, whose grandfather, Kimbi Godfrey Ndlovu Sibalo, was a teacher, did well in most classes.
Catherine fell sick when Precious was around 17 years old and died in her mid-30s.
Precious, like her mother Catherine, had a daughter at the age of 17. When the child was 2 years old, Precious had to leave her in Zimbabwe with her grandparents and go to South Africa to find a job to help support them all. She said:
She (her mother) fell sick when I was around 17 years old and that’s when I also had a child at an early age as well and by that time I thought my dreams were shattered because I could no longer go to Advanced Level, I could no longer go to university.
So, I had to leave my child in Zimbabwe with my grandparents and go to South Africa as well.
You know, those that they say runs in the family – my mum had me when she was young and I also had a child when I was young but I did not take that as a setback instead I noticed that I needed to change my life for the best.
In South Africa, Precious was working as a waitress, where she worked "with excellence". She said:
In South Africa, while I was working as a waitress, I worked with excellence.
When I was there, customers would see potential in me because I was very optimistic, very jovial person because I believe in the power of the mind.
I love reading books, I love empowering myself, keep positive because I believe you are the character of your thoughts.
So, every time with that in mind, I would work with excellence and my customers would tell me to try many things like modeling.
Some of the customers told me to also apply via a website called OVC and apply overseas.
So, I worked as a waitress and moved overseas, for over three months I was in Dubai.
Precious did her primary education at Kungubo Primary School where her grandfather, who was aged 85 in 2022, taught.
They later moved to Bulawayo where she enrolled at Mhali Primary School in Magwegwe.
At the age of 8 years, Precious went on a field trip to the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, previously known as Bulawayo International Airport, with her classmates at Mhali Primary School. She became intrigued while viewing aircraft arrive and depart the runway. . She said:
I was watching the pilots as they came in and noticed how they looked in their uniforms.
I was really inspired. But then something caught my eye. I could not see any female pilots.
When going back to class, I asked my teacher if it was possible to become a pilot as a girl.
She told me ‘You most definitely can be a pilot as a girl’ and from that day on, I resolved that I would be a pilot, even against all odds.
I could already see that it was male-dominated, but I knew that I wanted to be one of the few women in aviation.
Precious is now a holder of an Integrated Airline Transport Pilot Licence (IATPL) and completed an Airbus A320 MCC course.
While she was in Dubai, Precious applied for a job at Qatar Airways and among her six friends who applied for the job, she was the one who was chosen for a job of an air hostess.
She moved to Qatar Airways where she worked for five years while saving money to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a pilot.
Qatar Airways encouraged Precious to become a pilot and recommended that she go to 43 Air School in South Africa in the Eastern Cape in 2017.
She, however, didn’t do well in her initial entrance examinations because she had not prepared for them. She eventually passed the compass test after she worked harder.
Precious has the highest pilot certification obtained in South Africa. She said:
There are different licenses in aviation. There is the PPL which is the private pilot license – that one you can fly small private aircraft and then there is the commercial pilot license, you can fly the airlines as well and then there is the ATPL which is the highest of them all. It is frozen ATPL at the moment and then when you reach 1 500 hours that’s when it becomes unfrozen.
In August 2022, Precious went to her old primary school, Kungubo Primary School in rural Plumtree, and spent time with kids there.
There she donated shoes, sanitary pads, satchels, and food to pupils.
Precious has established the Precious Wings mentorship programme to ensure that disadvantaged children are exposed to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
- Precious wasn't good at mathematics
- Her grandfather and mentor was a headmaster
- Precious grew up reading Readers’ Digest and Wilbur Smith books
- At one point, she had insufficient money to purchase clothes for an interview
- She has worked as a waitress, model, and air hostess
- Precious was a part-time model between 2010 and 2012 before moving to Dubai
- Simba Jemwa, Precious Sibalo: The sky is NOT the limit for her, The Sunday News, Published: 07 August 2022, Retrieved: 21 February 2023
- Fledgling Pilot Resolves to Soar, The VOA News, Published: 28 April 2021, Retrieved: 21 February 2023
- Zimbabwe Woman Defies Odds to Become Certified Pilot, The VOA News1, Published: 16 April 2021, Retrieved: 21 February 2023
- Michael Jonga, Precious’s Story: From cabin crew to pilot and COVID-19 philanthropist, Aerotime Hub, Published: 02 June 2021, Retrieved: 21 February 2023