Welcome to Wonders of Aviation (USA)

Wonders of Aviation (WOA USA), IRS NPO# 75236162037, is a not-for-profit organisation (NPO) that uses aviation to inspire young adults to have a life-long love of learning. WOA USA currently operates primarily in South Africa. Our mission is to provide women and the underprivileged an equal opportunity in aviation.

Wonders of Aviation South Africa (WOA SA), NPO# 20201607342408, is an NPO that uses the magic of flight to inspire and educate previously disadvantaged youth about the aviation industry, and to engender a lifelong love of learning.  WOA SA supports the aviation industry’s outreach programs that encourage learners to consider a career in aviation, while focusing its efforts on individuals who we hope will become mentors and future aviation industry leaders. 

WOA SA demographics

WOA SA targets two demographics: 

  1. High potential individuals who receive leadership training and are shown the diversity of employment opportunities in aviation through our Educational Aviation Awards initiative. In addition, they assume leadership positions in WOA as part of our learn-by-doing ethos.
  2. The broader population, which participates in our activities by registering with our LinkedIn affinity group. This social media site provides employment opportunities with sponsoring institutions, training on how to build a resume, information regarding aviation events, and opportunities to increase their knowledge.

WOA SA 2017 Awards

WOA SA’s work in South Africa recently received two major recognitions:

  1. The Aeronautical Society of South Africa awarded Donald Schenk the John Weston Award for Wonders of Aviation’s work in helping develop human capital.
  2. The Aero Club of South Africa awarded Daniel Ralefeta its Silver Wings Award for the work Daniel Ralefeta does with the Aero Club’s Transformation and Development division, which exposes thousands of youngsters to aviation.

In addition, the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is preparing a documentary on how WOA transformed Gift Kgadima into the leader he is today. 

Objectives of Wonders of Aviation (USA)

WOA USA's objectives are to:
  • Demonstrate that aviation provides opportunities for everyone irrespective of their gender, race, or creed.
  • Help teenagers who demonstrate a love and enthusiasm for aviation.
  • Support existing educational initiatives and help new ones get started.
  • Find ways to minimize educational costs by using underutilized assets.
  • Help design metrics for measuring effectiveness.
  • Be a forum for sharing information and ideas.
  • Be source of mentors and role models.
  • Create a community of aviation volunteers.
The Wright Brothers created the single greatest cultural force since the invention of writing. The airplane became the first World Wide Web, bringing people, languages, ideas, and values together. Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft Corporation 

WOA SA 2018

In 2018 WOA SA will support a robust programme for high potential individuals. 

The winners of the 2018 Educational Aviation Awards will participate in several activities, including: flying Airbus and Boeing simulators; visiting the OR Tambo International Airport Control Tower; flying gliders; and other hands-on experiences. They will receive leadership training, such as: critical thinking; business writing; and entrepreneurial training, and they will participate in industry-sponsored events in townships where the most underprivileged are exposed to aviation. 

WOA SA relies on volunteers for most of its work, and on industry to provide free use of surplus capacity on simulators and wind tunnels. However, WOA SA covers costs such as transport, food, materials, and housing for multi-day events. 

The 2018 WOA SA expenses are expected to total R1,600,000, with two thirds being provided by South African supporters. 

Who we are

WOA is the creation of aviation enthusiasts in South Africa and the USA. It initially involved soaring enthusiasts who became friends at the World Soaring Championships in Uvalde Texas in 2012. Mark Huffstutler and Marion Griffith from the US, and Dick Bradley from South Africa, believed that soaring provided inspiration and a cost-effective way to train pilots. Read more...

How we do it

WOA is a community of aviation professionals who are committed to training tomorrow’s aviation leaders, and to providing ongoing education for WOA Award recipients, mentors, and role models. The South African government is committed to having South African institutions reflect the composition of that country’s population. Read more...


WOA relies on the aviation industry to identify high potential students who become the Wonders of Aviation Award recipients. Award recipients learn about the aviation industry by participating in sessions that include a tour of an air traffic control tower, a ride in a helicopter, experience flying a plane either in an Airbus or Boeing flight simulator, instruction in gliding. Read more...

SA Book Share Programme

WOA has initiated a book share education programme, started by retired aviators who live on Bainbridge Island, Seattle, USA. They all loved aviation and wanted to provide a connection between themselves and Wonders of Aviation in South Africa. These people have been leaders in some aspect of aviation and have given us books that were important to each of them. Read more...

Award Winners/our accomplishments are our people

 Buhle Dlodlo 

National Aerospace Centre Scholarship, 2016 WOA Award Winner & 2017 Schenk Family Award Winner

Buhle Dlodlo is our first Award Winner who is an aeronautical engineering student. She is one of Wits University’s top aeronautical engineering students, a past National Aerospace Centre (NAC) Scholarship recipient, and has taken the time to help with WOA.

Buhle is in the process of designing a program that will encourage high school students to read more books about aviation; and is helping Wits' NAC develop an exciting one day program our Award Winners.

Buhle was part of the South African Aero Squad team from Wits University that made it into the top 50 in the Airbus Fly Your Ideas competition. 

Buhle is a 2016 WOA Award Winner, and the 2017 Schenk Family Award Winner. Read more about Buhle and her inspirational journey...

 Gift Kgadima 

2015 WOA Award Winner, 2016 Schenk Family Award Winner & 2017 WOA Bursary Winner

Gift Kgadima is a product of the Aero Club of South Africa’s Transformation and Development division and was one of WOA’s first Award Winners. He demonstrates the leadership we hope to see in all our team. 

Gift demonstrated his early leadership skills at the Cornerstone College, Silverton, Pretoria  where he learned to fly drones. His commitment to making a difference in Africa's fight against wildlife poaching, led to him flying drones for Air Shepherd, an organization supported by the Lindbergh Foundation, that uses drones to protect elephants in Africa.

Gift is a 2016 Schenk Family Award Winner, was elected Secretary of WOA in 2017, and has been awarded a 2017 WOA


to help him pursue his pilot training. Read more about Gift and his inspirational journey...

Media Center


 Aero Club of South Africa News 

Aero Club of SA 2017 Annual Awards
by Garth Calitz. Flightline Weekly. 6 November 2017

On a sweltering evening the Aero Club of South Africa hosted their annual awards dinner at Zwartkops Air Force Base . At 4:30 in the afternoon the guests started arriving at the beautiful Hangar 5 at this historic Air Force Base. After a welcome drink, the Air Force Museum treated everyone to a beautiful display of their pride and joy the de Havilland Vampire, flown by Col Glen Warden. Read more...

 Aeronautical Society of South Africa (AeSSA) News 

Don Schenk presents the AeSSA annual John Weston Lecture
WOA news. 25-26 October 2017

WOA's founder, Don Schenk, was invited to present the John Weston Lecture at this year's AeSSA annual conference.

John Weston was a South African aeronautical engineer, pioneering aviator, farmer and soldier. In 1911, Weston founded the Aeronautical Society of South Africa. The Society hosts a bi-annual memorial lecture in his honour. Weston also established the John Weston Aviation Company to raise funds for the establishment of a flying school with a permanent aerodrome. The company's wealthy sponsors funded flying demonstrations in South Africa and Mozambique.

Don's lecture was titled: People, Knowledge & Innovation. He introduced and discussed the progress that Wonders of Aviation has made over the past few years. This was a wonderful platform for Wonders of Aviation, and he has been invited to be more involved at the 2018 annual conference which will be held in Cape Town. Read more...

WOA wins the 2017 John Weston Award
WOA news. 25-26 October 2017

Don Schenk, on behald of Wonders of Aviation, was presented with the 2017 John Weston Award by AeSSA in recognition of the work the NGO is doing to develop human capital and support previously disadvantaged youth in the South African aviation industry. Read more...

 AASA News 

AASA sponsors WOA's attendance at 47th Annual General Assembly
WOA news. 16 October 2017

The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) held its 47th AGA from 12 to 15 October 2017, at the Wild Coast Sun in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. The theme of the AGA was Building Human Capital for African Airlines.  AASA sponsored the attendance of Gift Kgadima, WOA Secretary, to the 3-day annual event, and Comair Limited sponsored his flights. Read more...


 National Geographic Wildlife Watch 

Watch a Dramatic Elephant Rescue 
A young elephant was saved from drowning in a manmade structure in a Zimbabwe national park by a team that is using drones to deter poaching.
By Brian Clark Howard for National Geographic, 1 November 2016

An anti-poaching team saved a young elephant from drowning this month, and it was caught on video. The rescue was made by the Air Shepherd team in Zimbabwe's vast Hwange National Park.

Air Shepherd is a partnership between the Lindbergh Foundation and the company UAV and Drone Solutions, which is working to deter poachers in Hwange and other parks around Africa.

During an early morning scouting mission, Air Shepherd drone pilots Tom Lautenbach and Gift Kgadima were driving in Hwange, getting a feel for the land that they have been flying their drones over for the past few weeks...

Read the full article: news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/11/elephant-rescued-well-zimbabwe-hwange-national-park/ 

Video published with permission granted by Erik Lindbergh of the Lindbergh Foundation.

Success is not measured by what a man accomplishes, but by the opposition he has encountered and the courage with which he has maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds. Charles Lindbergh, first solo transatlantic flight, pioneering aviator, military officer, author, inventor, explorer and environmental activist