By Bright Chikele.
ZAMBIA’S youngest commercial pilot has clocked more than 200 hours flying for the Zambia Flying Doctor Service (ZFDS) based at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, in Ndola on the Copperbelt.
Born on July 10, 1995, in Monze in Southern Province, Evans Mauta, 20, is also the youngest of the six ZFDS crew.
He works under experienced pilots who were employed by the Zambian Air Force, including chief pilot Major Charles Mutantabowa (retired) and Brigadier-General Goodwell Chilekwa (retired).
“I have learnt a lot from the old men I work with at Zambian Flying Doctor Service,” said Mauta, who joined ZFDS in December and broke the record of being the country’s youngest pilot.
A former classmate at Kitwe’s Mpelembe Secondary School, Kalenga Kamwendo, a 21-year-old pilot working for Proflight Zambia, the country’s major local scheduled airline, had until then been the youngest pilot.
“I have flown slightly more than 230 hours,” he said.
As a boy, Mauta used to play with toy planes on imaginary runways on the veranda where he lived in Kansenshi, a low-density area in Ndola.
“I used to draw runways on the veranda and played with toy planes,” he said. He also enjoyed playing computer games that had something to do with flying.
“I used to fear heights when I was young,” he joked.
When Mauta flew to China in 2012 to visit his cousin, Musanya Mwambazi, who was studying civil engineering, he “could imagine what was happening in the cockpit.”
Mauta’s rise to become the youngest pilot in Zambia was not without some form of failure.
He was the only one who failed the first examination at South Africa’s Aptrac Aviation at pilot licence level when he first attempted the course in 2014.
But the lesson he learnt from his failure was “never to give up”.
“I got 100 percent when I wrote the exam the second time and I was the first person of African descent to complete the course in the shortest time that was set on a new syllabus.”
After graduating from Aptrac Aviation, he enrolled at 43 Advanced in Lanseria, South Africa, where he completed the Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) theory and Cessna Grand Caravan last year after obtaining his commercial pilot’s licence.