“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.” — William James.


Rural Development Projects


The Plane Project Foundation

Kelly Slingers is the founder, and pilot behind The Plane Project Foundation. The 30-year-old has her South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) private pilots licence and is studying towards her law degree. Her job entails delivering aid to under-served people in Southern Africa. She identifies the areas in need of aid, finds the necessary resources and creates flight plans for each mission. It also involves securing sponsors for the flights and relief aid, as well as coordinating with local organisations to ensure that the aid is distributed effectively. Since August 2020, the foundation has flown essential supplies, including feminine products for women, to more than a million people. Kelly was recognised by the SACAA as a 2022 Young trailblazer in Aviation. Her drive to excel comes from a desire to make a meaningful difference in the world and to leave a lasting legacy that she can be proud of. Kelly has worked hard to build partnerships with notable organisations such as the Gift of the Givers, which has allowed her to expand the reach of her work to people who are too often overlooked and forgotten. She has used her career in aviation to spread hope to young women and previously disenfranchised people aspiring to work in aviation.

  • Loutzavia Flight School and Eagle Air Flight School, South African Civil Aviation Authority private pilots licence (A)
  • LLB, University of South Africa, 2019 – present

Since August 2020, we have flown more than 500 000 essential supplies reaching over a million South Africans. 

  • Recognised by the South African Civil Aviation Authority as a 2022 Young trailblazer in Aviation

Growing up in the small town of Grahamstown, attending an all-girls school was an experience that truly shaped who I am today. I still remember the days spent in the school hall, practising public speaking with Mrs Jackson. It was here that I discovered my love for expressing my opinions and ideas in front of an audience.

When I was in grade six, I had the opportunity to take part in a public speaking competition in that very same school hall. The topics we could choose from ranged from Mark Shuttleworth to the reproductive system of dolphins. But for me, there was only one topic that truly spoke to me: women’s rights in South Africa. At just 12 years old, I stood in front of a room full of people and spoke passionately about the importance of gender equality and women’s rights. I knew that this was something I cared deeply about, and I was determined to make my voice heard.

It taught me that my perspective and opinions mattered and that I had the power to create positive change in the world around me. In many ways, that public speaking competition was a defining moment for me. It ignited a fire in my heart that has continued to burn brightly to this day, and has inspired me to use my voice to advocate for those who may not have a platform to speak up.

These lessons and experiences have shaped me into the person I am today, and I am excited to continue using my voice to have a positive impact in the world.

If I could give advice to my younger self, I would tell her to embrace failure and to take more risks. When I was younger, I was often afraid to try new things or to take on challenges that seemed daunting. But over time, I have learned that failure is not something to be feared, but rather an opportunity to learn and grow. I would also tell my younger self to be more patient and to trust the process. There were times when I was so focused on achieving my goals that I forgot to enjoy the journey and appreciate the small wins along the way. Finally, I would tell my younger self to prioritise self-care and to take time for myself. It’s easy to get caught up in the demands of work or school, but it’s important to take care of your mental and physical health so that you can perform at your best.

In five years, I would like to see South Africa become a more equitable and just society. This means addressing the systemic inequalities that have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and creating opportunities for all South Africans to thrive.

I would like to see increased investment in education and skills training, as well as job creation programs that focus on providing meaningful employment opportunities for young people. I would also like to see more investment in renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure, as well as efforts to reduce the country’s carbon footprint.

In addition, I believe that addressing corruption and improving governance at all levels is essential for building a more prosperous and stable South Africa. This means strengthening institutions, promoting transparency and accountability, and ensuring that public resources are used for the benefit of all South Africans.

Ultimately, I would like to see a South Africa where every citizen has access to quality education, healthcare, and housing, where the environment is protected and preserved for future generations, and where diversity is celebrated and embraced.

View previous winners from 2018 to 2022

Subcribe to the newsletter