Flight to UL

In this blog, Mandlaenkosi Dube, an International Postgraduate student of Msc Aeronautical Engineering, recounts how his love of aviation was inspired by a crop sprayer, starting a journey which would lead him to studying at the University of Limerick.

The journey of a thousand miles starts on ‘a single mile of runway’ for us aviators anyway. My passion for the aviation industry started when I was very young, on a visit to a certain farm in Zimbabwe. I saw the pilot taking off from a small, short dirt strip on his land and do more than 3 fly by runs on top of his field, spraying his crops. Others were in awe of the huge lush green field with the ever so refreshing vapor laden breeze that came our way on that hot summer afternoon, not me!! All I could hear was the sweet music of the single propeller engine and the graceful flying of the small plane as it dived in to unload its contents before turning back in the horizon for another go. Finally, it came back to land and I was in love…

Now I am at the University of Limerick, albeit virtually because the recent global pandemic that scuppered my plans doing MSc in Aeronautical Engineering which in essence is Aerospace Engineering. It has been a long journey full of numerous flights and groundings, but I have learnt to fly so being grounded becomes a temporary diversion whenever it happens. My aviation story is too long to tell but here is the condensed version. I did every odd course in aviation that I could, from dangerous goods to ticketing and reservations and Galileo global distribution systems. This was nowhere near enough for me, so I joined the big leagues when I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the National Aerospace University (Kharkiv Aviation Institute) in Kharkov, Ukraine. I went on to work on various light and medium aircraft during my training as seen below.

Doing a vacuum pump replacement procedure.

In Ukraine I was exposed to the best of the East in terms of aerospace engineering. There were times when I thought I would not make it because it is such a demanding field with extremely high benchmarks to aim for. I made it, and I wanted more but from a different environment with a different perspective so that I encompass it all. Up came the University of Limerick, I just could not resist what they had to offer in the field of aeronautics, and I went for it.

Inside the cockpit of a MiG 23 variable geometry fighter aircraft.

Ireland has the biggest airline in Europe by passenger volume (Ryanair). I was sold before I could even debate it because of the allure of the exposure I might get from such big corporations while I studied. I might not be in Limerick physically yet, but I already feel in Limerick away from Limerick. Their online learning facilities are interactive and make you feel like you are in the same place with everyone. The virtual tours are so detailed such that I feel like I have already been there. The University of Limerick goes the extra mile for its students, be it international or local students. They roll out a program that guides you from the moment you get accepted at the university, to preparing to travel to Ireland, getting there, starting your studies, getting exposure to some of the best companies in your respective field and your life after graduation. This amount of love and care makes you feel like you can achieve/be anything you aim for in life, which is what we all want when we become independent, right!!

Mi-24 gunship and MiG-AT aircraft at the Ukrainian Freedom Day show in Kharkov.

This is the end…of the beginning. So, sit back, fasten your seat belts and enjoy the flight (UL).

By Mandlaenkosi Bonaventure Dube


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