Lifestyle

Saula Naikatini’s Leap Of Faith Earns Him Flying License

Today, not only has he graduated with his licence to fly a commercial aircraft, he is also counting his lucky stars flying full time for domestic airline carrier Fiji Link as a First Officer.
25 Jul 2019 16:08
Saula Naikatini’s Leap Of Faith Earns Him Flying License
Fiji Link first officer Saula Norman Homutovu Naikatini at Nadi International Airport.

Behind every success story is an untold tale of pain, hopelessness, failures and heartbreak.

This was no different to 21-year-old lad Saula Norman Homutovu Naikatini. Two years ago, the 19-year-old would be left with not a single cent in his pocket forcing him to walk a mile daily from his homestay to the Advanced Aviation Training in Namaka, Nadi in pursuit of achieving his dream career.

Today, not only has he graduated with his licence to fly a commercial aircraft, he is also counting his lucky stars flying full time for domestic airline carrier Fiji Link as a First Officer.

Originally from Tuvu, tikina (district) of Bemana in the highlands of Nadroga Navosa, Mr Naikatini says the journey was no easy feat but he believes that where he is today is a result of answered prayers, perseverance and determination.

HOW IT ALL BEGAN

Being the youngest in a family of five, Mr Naikatini grew up with the aspiration to become a seafarer.

He said his elder brother was already a pilot thus he had wanted to be different from him.

However, leaving high school in 2016, he was unaware of his next step thus he chose to enjoy some time with his family, working on the family’s small backyard farm in their Wailoku home.

“After completing high school in 2016 I was not sure which career path to take, I enrolled into both the University of the South Pacific (USP) and the Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA) to further my education, but in the process of awaiting my offer letters, I saw myself enjoying my time at home with my family and looking after our small backyard farm,” Mr Naikatini said.

“The thought of becoming a pilot was always in my mind but I had literally never wanted to burden my parents (Mitieli and Viniana) financially as they were both retired and I was aware of the fees flying schools were charging,” he said.

“My older siblings were all married and had started with their own families too and I never wanted to burden them also.”

He said it was until one day when a family friend visited his family where he was asked if he was interested in taking on a spot in flying school.

This he said was the golden opportunity he took by faith to begin his journey at the Advanced Aviation Training (AAT) in Namaka, Nadi.

“A family friend had organised for my registration and also the day I had to sit for my aptitude test,”

“I passed my aptitude test and I was blessed to be one of the 20 students that were chosen by the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme (TELS) to be first ever recipients from Aviation School, paying for everything I had to study.”

CHALLENGES FACED

Being the youngest and having to be away from home was one of the main challenges he faced during his aviation training.

Apart from this, it was financial constraints, peer pressure and loneliness.

“Most of the time I would always think about my family and I would start to miss them,”

“I had my own share of ups and downs during the course of my studies and I was grateful to my friends and tutors for always being my family away from home,” he said

“Sometimes I had to skip lunch because I had to save up money for other general needs for myself.

“Sometimes I felt like it was only getting tougher, but I am thankful for the never-ending words of encouragement from my parents, siblings, relatives, church family and friends that gave me the push to keep moving forward.”

ADVANCED AVIATION TRAINING

Mr Naikatini said during his training his focus was clear and that was to achieve what he had set out to achieve.

“I understood that my parents were retirees, my siblings and my whole extended family were expecting a lot from me,”

“I had my share of challenges, had a little bit of fun with my peers but at the end of the day I was determined to achieve my aim and that was to get my commercial flying license,” he said

“I had sat for my series of examination with the school and the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji (CAAF) and out of the 12 units I failed only one in which I had to re-sit.

“When I sat for it for the second time, I finally made it through.”

He said he managed achieve his dreams in less than two years at the Advanced Aviation Training.

“Right after we got our licence there was an opening with Fiji Link, three of us in my class were lucky enough to have secured spots with the domestic airline carrier.”

Saula Norman Homutovu Naikatini (left) with work colleague Kemueli Naqau getting ready for take off.

Saula Norman Homutovu Naikatini (left) with work colleague Kemueli Naqau getting ready for take off.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Mr Naikatini attributed his success to his parents who were the never-ending source of inspiration for the young lad.

“My parents were the backbone of my success, they prayed for me, they encouraged me and they were always there for me 24/7,”

“Before leaving home, I mapped out a plan to finish off from flying school on a high note and to make them proud.

“I am happy to be able to put a smile on their faces today.”

He also acknowledged the support from his extended family and all those that played a part in his achieving what he has achieved.

“I had a massive support system, I want to thank my siblings for always being there for me, my brother in PNG and my sisters here in Fiji, my extended families, my church family for the constant prayers, my friends and all those that played an important part in my life.

“I would also like to thank my aviation friends from AAT and Mrs Chang who is like my second mother here in Nadi, she looks after me at the homestay and treats me like her own.”

ADVICE TO YOUTHS

He said: “Humility goes a long way and its through humility one is able to achieve the unattainable. Be humble, stay focused, go through the challenges with a positive mindset and you will only come out a strong individual ready to take on the world.”

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