The Sky’s the Limit for Captain Kanthum Naidoo-du Plessis!
Every generation brings with it the opportunity for greater success, British Airways and Kulula pilot, Captain Kanthum Naidoo-du Plessis, told a Women’s Day gathering on UKZN’s Westville campus.
Working in a male-dominated environment has not inhibited Naidoo-du Plessis who has racked up more than 6 000 hours of flying time and currently pilots a Boeing 737-800 on regional and domestic routes.
Addressing the gathering, she said a strong work ethic had helped her. ‘People are forced to leave prejudice behind when a job is well done.’
She juggles the roles of a wife, mother and a pilot but behind the controls in an aircraft the safety of passengers is her priority. ‘When you are in 65 000kg of metal, 41 000 feet above the ground, hurtling along close to the speed of sound with 200 people behind you, you can only wear one hat, and that’s a pilot’s hat.’
‘Naidoo-du Plessis emphasised the importance of education and spoke about the relay of life. ‘That is what we do, we pass the baton on to our children,’ she said.
‘There are two rules in a successful relay - one is don’t drop the baton. The other is that the receiver needs to be prepared and ready. If we get this right, if we run a successful relay, our children will be prepared and ready for life.’
She was pursuing an Accounting qualification when she came across a tiny advert in a Sunday newspaper inviting applications for a career in aviation. After a rigorous interview process (including numerous tests), she was selected out of more than 800 applicants.
While the journey had been difficult, she was passionate about aviation, referring to a quote by artist Leonardo da Vinci: ‘Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes forever skyward.’
Naidoo-du Plessis is married with a seven-year-old daughter, Kayla. When she isn’t flying around the country or spending time with her family, she enjoys mountain-biking and running.
She acknowledged her parents as well as her husband, Hugo, and her daughter for the supportive role they had played in her life.
The Women’s Day event was co-ordinated by Ms Pamela Adams of Corporate Relations, with Professor Suria Govender as Programme Director. Entertainment included performances by the UKZN Dance Club, Ms Slie Meyiwe and Infiniti (the Durban Tenors).
Loads of prizes were up for grabs including gift baskets, bouquets of flowers, food vouchers and UKZN memorabilia.
Prizes were sponsored by Magic Pan Caterers, the Upper Caff, Desirees Bakery, Mr Haffejee at the Varsity Shop, Mrs Govender’s Curry Kitchen, What’s Up Hotdogs, Motion-Hair Products, Obsidian Hair & Beauty, V City Chicks, UKZN Schools Liaison and UKZN’s Corporate Relations.
- Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer