My First Solo Flight

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Ever since I can remember, I wanted to become a pilot. As the years passed my career steered me into the business world and engineering.

At the age of 35, I became seriously ill and it was then when I decided turning my dream of flying into reality.

I vividly recall studying in my hospital bed, sick of chemotherapy and how I never gave up. Today I am an airline pilot in business aviation and ambulance flying. I’m licensed to fly various airplanes in different continents and I’m enjoying every moment of my dream, now my reality.

What was the most thrilling experience during my first solo flight?

When my instructor informed me: “I think you are ready” (just like in Avatar, the movie when Neytiri told Jake he was ready to become a Matakaya). I replied: “Ready for what?” “Ready for take off!” he commanded.

The instructor never gave me a chance to answer as he was convinced I could do it. And so I took off and flew along the traffic pattern (a mere 5 minutes!)) around the airport. I went through my checklist, radio communication and just as I was about to downwind to the airport I realized (WTF!) now I have to land this thing alone! Within a second my adrenalin hit an all time high and blood pressure pumped to the maximum. I could hear my heart beating through my headphones as I was ticking off checklist for the approach, keeping track of procedures, proper radio communication and flew the plane in the requested speed and configuration.

As I was turning into final approach for landing and thank heavens I could see the runway in front of me, it was then that I kept my focus and confidence together and said NO to anxiety and uncertainty building up my head.


I can’t explain or describe how it felt that day. That feeling follows me till this very day as I’m flying around the world delivering either patients or high profiled guests to their destinations. The feeling of flying creates a beautiful balance in my life that is filled with gratification, exhilaration, gratitude and the mere fact that I know that I’m capable of living my dream!

 My message to you: “Don’t allow an illness or anything of that matter to make you realize you should reach for your dreams, you just never know… Go and do it now! 

The story of Rony Vogel 

Have You Done Anything Lately Worth Remembering?

 Last month I had the chance to visit Zanzibar, Tanzania. I remember approaching Daram Salaam on a 3-hour delayed flight from Johannesburg International. Our plane’s wing was faulty so we had to wait two hours in the plane, and then moved to the next available plane. At the airport in Daram Salaam people seemed busy. I remember an eager, young official taking my passport and telling me to pay U$50 for a visa and just to wait there. He disappeared in the crowd, I panicked as I realized he took my passport and I didn’t have any dollars.

I went on through the crowd, located the passport stand and to my surprise and relief, I found it in their possession. They instructed me how to get US dollars but unfortunately the ATM’s were outside the airport. We then had to arranged for officials to escort me to the ATM’s – I had no visa. This felt so embarrassing!

One and a half hours later including a missed flight to Zanzibar, I felt completely stuck, hungry and lost! Dusk was approaching and mosquitos normally come out this time. I had no repellant and no malaria injections. Boy oh boy, was I going to remember this day. I finally managed to reach the South African Airways manager and told him my story. He immediately arranged a seat on the next flight to Zanzibar. I couldn’t believe my luck and hastily caught the last flight out just in time for the mozzies! I gave the manager a big hug, which I’m sure he appreciated and then took off to enjoy two weeks of bliss!

I learned that my experiences and the people within those experiences play an important role in remembering an event. I noticed that I tend to specifically remember those days with uncomfortable experiences and those days with blissful experiences! The rest I guess is history and not worth the space in my mind 🙂

Cutting Corners

South Africa, I love my country. However there is one little thing I don’t understand and it’s not the crime rate, I feel safe in my country. It’s our drivers cutting corners and not staying in their own lanes on winding roads.

Ever experienced oncoming traffic that shortcuts into your lane on winding roads, resulting in you almost hitting the side curb or whatever is next to you as you make way for the oncoming, oblivious driver?

This is my route everyday and some days it’s really bad. Often I have to give way, slow down or even stop so that the oncoming driver can have my lane to shortcut in. Over the years, it became a natural instinct to recognize these drivers and give way automatically.

My message to those who cut corners and risk other people’s lives including their own: “If you do cut corners on the road, where else in your life do you cut corners to reach your destination and how many people have to suffer in the process?”