Alewyn Burger is the first Everyday Aviation Hero featured in our series.
Alewyn’s best advice for budding pilots? “Stay fit, go for a run or cycle a few times a week, eat healthy and don’t party too hard! Don’t sit on social media all day. Get enough sleep. Train for and run a marathon, it will teach you discipline. Don’t forget to look out the window when you fly, enjoy!”
His love of aviation started at only 15 years old. He joined a Gliding course at Worcester Airfield over the school holidays, doing 3 flights a day for 5 days. He even convinced his dad to let him stay an extra day – he was hooked!
After Gliding, he progressed to Power Flying when he was 18 and then obtained his CPL at the young age of 19. Alewyn’s first aviation job was not actually flying… but at least he was around aircraft! He was able to push and pull them around, getting them ready for charters at Wonderboom Airport. Alewyn decided that to get his first flying job, he needed to be where the action was and be at the right place, at the right time. 9 Months later he got his first shot at flying a Beech Baron.
He had a slow start with not much daily flying, but had fun flying various different types of piston twins and turbo props like Baron 58, Piper Chieftain, Beech King Air 200, Embraer E110, Cessna Caravan, PAC750XL, TBM850 to name but a few.
He then moved to Corporate flying on the Learjet 45 & Pilatus PC12. From there, the natural progression was to move to an airline environment to fly the Dash 8-300 and then later the mighty Q400. He moved on to flying the CRJ200 based out of Cape Town. A few years later, he found himself with a dream come true flying the iconic Boeing 737.
Alewyn says there are many challenges he’s overcome, but it’s best not to see them as such, as it will only get you down. His advice is to embrace the challenge, then enjoy the results! Others will not be up for the task, but if you work hard, you’ll achieve your goals. He’s also had to make sacrifices during his flying career, many times disappointing others by not being where they want you to be. Others that are generally not in aviation sometimes just don’t understand the demands on a pilot, so his advice is don’t feel too bad, just do what you must.
For anyone wanting to go for a career in aviation, Alewyn’s guidance is that if you really do love flying, then it will be a joy, even when things don’t go 100% according to plan. His best tips are to make sure you get enough sleep, know your stuff and have an open mind. Things are not always glitzy and glamorous… living conditions on a charter might be suboptimal, food not great, too cold, too hot, getting eaten by mosquitos, flying with strangers with different backgrounds, waiting for pax, but it’s all part of it. Alewyn says, “Be like a Navy Seal, be tough, embrace it! Make it look easy, that’s how professionals do it.”
When asked for tips for aviators wanting to follow in his footsteps, Alewyn says: “Always be early and prepared, but don’t overthink everything. Often simpler is better. Make it happen. If somebody invites you to go flying, even if you can’t log the hours, go flying, make friends. Take initiative when someone gives you a pinkie and set it up in your favour. Don’t see problems, come up with solutions. Nobody wants to fly with someone with an attitude that only sees problems and moans about issues.”
He is happily engaged in airline flying as a captain on the B737 based out of Cape Town. He now wants to focus on general aviation activities such as a Flight Instructor at Stellenbosch Club, flying other Vintage aircraft and also spend time doing more rally flying to be ready for the World Rally Flying Championships which will be happening in Italy in 2025.
Alewyn recently took part in the World Rally Flying Champs in France in 2023, where he and flying partner Steve van der Merwe won a bronze medal. We are so proud of these South Africans flying the flag high on the international stage!