As a young boy growing up in the Copperbelt, Basil Sichali watched the aircraft taking off and landing near his family home at Ndola Airport and dreamed of one day becoming a pilot himself.
That dream became a reality, and 20 years on, Captain Basil Sichali finds himself the new Chief Pilot at the country’s top airline, Proflight Zambia.
Despite his high-flying career, he has not forgotten his roots, however, and is keen to see other youngsters follow in his flightpath.
“Being Chief Pilot, I hope I can inspire someone who would like to take up the journey in aviation just as I was inspired,” says Capt. Sichali.
“I started my dream when I was seven, and right now I am 37 years. I know there are more youngsters who are coming up, who would like to pursue the same career. If you are ready to become an aviator, my door is always open for those interested to come and have a chat with me or the other pilots as well.”
Capt. Sichali is proof that pursuing that dream can pay off, as he takes up his new role as Chief Pilot leading a skilled team of professional flight crew.
Capt. Sichali is a person full of humour and positivity, and has more than 8,800 hours of commercial flying in the sky.
He is determined to set the standards for the younger generations wanting to become pilots.
Capt. Sichali became an aviator at an early age, starting his flight training at 17 years of age. He now has more than 20 years of experience in the industry.
After completing secondary school Chengelo School he pursued his dream career in aviation at the Zambia Air Services Training Institute (ZASTI). ZASTI is Zambia’s first flight school and this is where he got his private pilot licence (PPL) moving to the USA, were he gained his commercial pilot license (CPL) and airline transport pilot licence (ATPL).
“During my childhood, I was privileged to have a few friends whose dads were pilots and one of my uncles too was a pilot in the Zambia Air Force. I had the honour of having a one-to-one chat with him at a young age and that sparked my interest of becoming a pilot,” he explained.
Capt. Sichali was born in Kitwe comes from a family of four - with one brother and two sisters - who are in accounts, law and himself as a pilot. He grew up in Ndola at the airport compound and spent most of his childhood at the airport compound where he met an array of pilots and aviators.
After attaining his commercial licence, Capt. Sichali rose through the ranks to become Chief Pilot at Proflight Zambia.
His first job as a pilot at Zambian Airways, becoming the youngest Captain in 2006 at 24. He then left for Dubai where he worked for a company called Falcon Express doing FedEx cargo flights. He lived, there for about 18 months before joining Air Malawi.”
He worked and lived in Malawi for two years before coming back to Zambia and joining Zambezi Airlines, where he worked for a year before it closed.
He joined Proflight and worked for two years, Corporate Air for four years, and then in 2018 he returned to Proflight, having seen how the airline had grown, and the prospects in the industry.
As a professional and experienced pilot, Basil has flown a range of aircraft in his lifetime: Beechcraft 1900, ATR 42/72, Jetstream 41, B350, Boeing 737, CRJ and Hawker 125 - all of which he flew as captain.
A pilot’s career and work are spent in the air. “We fly to different destinations; every take-off and landing is always different to me, believe it or not. We get different winds, weather conditions and different passengers. My job is one of a kind and having a moving office is pretty interesting to me. Each time I look out of my widow while working I get a different view,” he said.
“It’s always an honour having the privilege of flying people and having their trust and belief in me. This gives me the drive to do the best I can as a pilot and captain.”
“The best part I love about my work is flying and meeting new challenges.”
As chief pilot Capt. Sichali looks out for the company’s interests and the flight crew through the Director of Flight Operations.
I am very happy that the company has given me this promotion of Chief Pilot; this is a position that will help me grow even further in my career.”
Capt. Sichali enjoys his life away from the air as a family man: married with two children.
Other than being with his family, he loves to fish once in a while, work out at the gym and meet up with different people from different fields like lawyers, engineers and doctors – as well as pilots - just to get a different perspective of life.
Being a pilot has its pros and cons, he says: “It’s hard, because half the time you are either flying in the country or flying out. But, as a family man I believe you have to meet someone who understands your passion and career as well; that’s what I have found in my wife.”
As Chief Pilot and leader of the airline’s flight crew, Capt. Sichali believes Zambia’s future in aviation is bright, and grooming up-coming aviators through mentorship will help create the right mindset and skills.
About Proflight Zambia
Proflight Zambia was established in 1991 and is Zambia’s leading scheduled airline. From its base in Lusaka its domestic routes include Livingstone, Mfuwe, Ndola, Solwezi and Ndola-Solwezi and regional routes to Lilongwe in Malawi, Durban in South Africa.
The airline prides itself in providing a safe, reliable, efficient and friendly service, and offering good value to business and leisure travellers locally and internationally.
The airline operates a 50-seater Bombardier CRJ-100 jet, 50-seat Bombardier Dash 8-300, and three 29-seater Jetstream 41 aircraft.
More information is available at www.flyzambia.com.