South African transgender pilot fights to return to the skies

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10/15/2023

An experienced South African transgender pilot says that his flying career has been unfairly grounded by the aviation authorities due to his gender identity. Kailer Smit, 32, based in Pretoria, dreamed of becoming a pilot from a young age. “It was on December 12, 2011, during a flight with my family as a ten-year-old, that I decided this is what I want to do for a living,” he recalls. Smit realised his dream and has been making a living as a pilot since 2015, flying charter, cargo, emergency aid, and medevac flights. Holding an airline transport pilot license, he has accumulated 2,500 hours of flight time, both as a contract pilot across Africa and as a flight instructor who has trained dozens of pilots.

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