Sylvie Tamboo becomes first Seychellois woman to fly Seychelles Air Force Dornier
After receiving the Best Academic Performer award in her recruit training, Tamboo joined the Air Force unit. (Sylvie Tamboo)
Cadet Officer Sylvie Tamboo placed her name in the record books by becoming the first Seychellois woman to fly a Seychelles Air Force (SAF) Dornier plane while paving her way to becoming a commissioned military pilot.
Tamboo, 20, is already a pilot after following her courses in Greece. The former student of the Independent School Seychelles told SNA that she left Seychelles at 17 to follow her dreams.
"I was inspired by my dad, France Tamboo, who is also a pilot, to take this career. I have always been flying to other countries with my dad and being on the flight deck and in the cockpit with him made me fall in love with flying," she said.
To become a pilot even during her teen years, Tamboo shared that she did not attend the School of Advanced Level Studies as is customary for most students seeking higher education overseas.
"The criteria that is needed to enter an aviation school in Greece is just to pass three main subjects - physics, maths and geography. After getting my IGCSE results, I sent them to the aviation school and they accepted me immediately," she said.
Tamboo came back to Seychelles in mid-2021 and took the rest of the year off. At the start of 2022, she went to the Air Force for meetings and interviews and was accepted in April to join the first 2022 batch of Seychelles Defence Forces recruits for a four-month-long training. She received the Best Academic Performer award and in August the same year, she joined the Air Force unit.
|Tamboo attended an aviation school in Greece. (Sylvie Tamboo) Photo License: All Rights Reserved|
"When I went abroad to study to become a pilot I always wanted to come back to work for my country, despite the fact that I was offered a job as a flight instructor in Greece. At the time I didn't know that I will be enlisting in the army. During the meeting with the commanding officer of the SDF, I was very intrigued by what he had to say. Becoming the first female Seychellois pilot to enlist in the Air Force was kind of a big deal for me," shared Tamboo.
She said she wanted to do that to inspire other females so that they can enlist in the army.
"When people hear the word army, they automatically think that there will be a lot of physical activities and lots of discipline. For me, it was a big decision because commercial flying and military flying are two different things. I just decided to go with the flow and build my experience and knowledge with the military," added Tamboo.
The operations and training officer at the SAF, Captain Julio Hoareau, who accompanied Tamboo in the interview, said that to become a commissioned military pilot for the SAF, Tamboo has to attain the rank of second lieutenant.
"It is compulsory for her as a pilot to undertake the officer training, which will start in March and when she is commissioned the will become a second lieutenant. Cadet Officer Tamboo is currently the only woman receiving training to become a military pilot and we are hoping that with her, more will follow," said Hoareau.
At the moment the Air Force has 12 other Seychellois pilots and one Indian Navy officer who provides the unit with support as an instructor and examiner.
As a young woman in the military, Tamboo said that she is going to use being 20 years old to her advantage.
"Being a pilot is difficult, and right now, I am going to put my mind and focus into what I love. In the future, I do want a family of my own and right now the big advantage that I have is that I am still young. I am single and enjoying my aviation career," said Tamboo.
To women who are feeling reluctant to join the army, fearing a career in a male-dominated field, Tamboo said "I want to see more females in the industry because at the end of the day, nothing can hold you back from achieving your dreams and to be honest, there are a lot of female pilots doing so much better and shocking a lot of male pilots."