On my final day at the Seychelles Air force I was once again called by Lieutenant Colonel Pouponneau to have a final chat with him up in his office- the heart of the Air force.
Once in his office he asked me about my week at the SAF, which of course you will be aware by now has been one of intense learning, discoveries and adventures whereby I met a team of dynamic young people. As I told Lieutenant Colonel about my experience he generously seized the opportunity to share with me some of his own knowledge acquired through his very long career serving in the Seychelles People Defence Forces and also as a civilian pilot.
Lt Col. Pouponneau joined the army way back in 1982 (way before I was even born). Throughout her career Lt. Col Pouponneau has worked at the Seychelles Coast Guard, SPDF Bel Eau Headquarters, and now he is the Commanding Officer (the person in charge) at the Seychelles Air force.
His career in aviation, started out as an aviation engineer (at one point he was the first aircraft engineer at the air force), later he received an opportunity to also deepen his knowledge on engineering practice for helicopters. Apart from engineering, he is also a well-qualified pilot having flown for Air Seychelles for 11 years and he also have immense experience flying for the Air force (also when it was the then AirWing).
Recalling his journey, he says that he is thankful for the opportunity acquired through his career and training. His trainings has also brought him to several places around the world including in the United States of America, Addis Ababa and even in Europe. With a smile , he express his gratitude as he feels that he is indeed quiet lucky to have discovered several fascinating sites around the globe. For instance the valley of kings in Ethiopia -whereby for nearly 500 years a large number of tombs were constructed for pharaohs and the important noble men in ancient civilization. One could not miss his excitement as he talked about seeing the tombs and the mommies buried in the valley.
As the conversation continued, I even got the chance to learn even more of the intriguing world of aviation. He mentioned that here at the SAF they take safety measures very seriously including all checks done before, during and after a flight. The list of checks on an airplane includes cruise check, approach and descent check (when the airplane is about to land –how to approach the run way, from where to approach the runway etc.), before landing check, after landing check and shutdown check. (yup... so much goes on in the cockpit, while we passengers relax with our headphones and movies). He highlighted how being a pilot is never an easy job –as pilots and the engineers do carry a huge responsibility on their shoulders. While on the flight the pilot must make sure to be alert at all time- “Ou ki bezwen anvol avyon, pa avyon ki anvol ou” he said.
As a young person, I could not help to notice that the air force work force comprises mainly of young people even younger than myself. Through the Airforce this dynamic group of young soldiers and civilians have acquired so many training and capacity building opportunities so much so that nowadays their knowledge in their particular field are well advanced. The high quality of work they do speak for itself. As we concluded our conversation Lt Col Pouponneau spoke with so much respect for his young and capable work force. I could immediately note that as Commanding officer of SAF, he intends to keep pushing the young soldiers towards more success so that the SAF will keep growing and expanding for many years to come.