If superheroes do exist‚ Fatima Jakoet certainly fits the bill.
She can fly‚ she is a crime fighter‚ she has helped more than 50,000 people and is improving the lives of dozens more.
Jakoet is a senior first officer at SA Airways‚ operating an Airbus 320.
She has an MBA‚ a degree in chemistry and worked at the national health department and SAPS forensic laboratory as a specialist in forensic toxicology and narcotics.
In 2015 she launched the world’s first Science Technology Robotics Engineering Aerospace and Mathematics (STREAM) laboratory and now works towards reviving the aerospace industry in South Africa.
Her Sakhikamva Foundation mentors thousands of learners in science‚ aerospace‚ coding and robotics and a bursary programme she started is allowing 13 people to train as pilots.
As if that is not enough‚ she is doing research at Harvard University on the transformation of airline pilots in SA.
Jakoet said she wanted to become a pilot after working as a forensic scientist on a drug bust at Cape Town International Airport in 2001.
“It was inconceivable for me to become a pilot [as a Muslim woman straight after the terror attacks in New York]‚” she said.
“But one day I stood at the airport and I looked at an airplane and I knew my calling. I knew I had to be in control of this machine.”
Now Jakoet wants to train the next generation of aerospace experts and believes South Africa could be in a position to lead the world in the field.
“This generation is the generation of space travel and we need to prepare them for it. Who are going to be the engineers and rocket launchers?
“The aim is to energise the aerospace industry in South Africa. We need to start leading instead of lagging.”
Jakoet also recently joined Cape Aerospace Technologies (CAT) as a director of business development.
The company manufactures jet engines and turbines for model airplanes and does work for the military.
CAT managing director David Krige said the experience and leadership Jakoet brought was invaluable in the industry.
“She is a very capable lady and her passion is unmatched‚” he said.