Pilot Profiles



As RAAus members, we’ve probably all heard the line “a pilot in every home”, but what if the home was filled with pilots? The van Rensburg family has a rich history in aviation, which has culminated in every family member earning their wings. SportPilot caught up with the van Rensburgs to find out how this fantastic flying family came about.

South African native Errol van Rensburg has been working in the aviation industry for over 40 years, beginning his career with Atlas Aircraft Corporation in 1981. Studying after hours while working as an avionics tradesman, Errol earned a Bachelor of Commerce and moved into management, before undertaking a 10-year stint in military contract management. From here, he co-founded Global Composite Solutions (GCS) in 2006, becoming the company’s CEO. GCS specialised in the design, development, and manufacture of various aviation products, which saw Errol working with names like Cessna, King Air, SAAB and Embraer. Despite the day job, Errol only learned to fly at the age of 40 when his wife Mariette bought him a flight training package for his birthday. It quickly became a passion of his, competing in the State Presidents Trophy and other air races in South Africa, bringing his wife and children to all his competitions.

In 2012, Errol and his family emigrated to Australia to found Global Aviation Products (GAP), the Australian distributor for Sling, Bushcat and JMB Aircraft. It was here that Mariette decided to obtain her pilot’s licence as well. Coming from an aviation-crazy family herself – with her father and 2 of her 3 siblings also pilots – Mariette originally was uninterested in flying herself. Working in the financial industry in South Africa, it wasn’t until GAP started and Errol needed pilots to move demonstrator aircraft between airshows that she considered flying herself. She decided to get her licence to assist him, and found it one of the most rewarding things she’s ever done. Once in Australia, the family decided to do a lap of the country in their Sling 4, which both Errol and Mariette described as one of their all-time favourite experiences.

For daughter Marena and son Wiehan, growing up with parents heavily involved in aviation meant their childhood included countless rides in the co-pilot seat. Flying was never forced upon them though, as both children worked at their parents’ business to pay for their own training. Now both in their early 20s and fully qualified, they have each taken their own paths in their aviation journeys, completing it in their own time.

For Marena, becoming a pilot started at 15 but after a bad first lesson and mounting commitments at school, flying was put on the backburner. This didn’t
quell her interest in aviation, however, as she was a committed member of Air Force Cadets’ 221 Squadron throughout high school. In 2020, with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Journalism fresh in hand, she returned to flying and obtained her licence. Marena has also completed a Postgraduate Certificate of Humanitarian Action, and dreams of one day combining this with her aviation experience to deliver aid and improve the lives of people living in remote Australian communities. For now, Marena is enjoying having the ability to travel around Australia and explore the country by air.

Wiehan, like his older sister, began his aviation journey at 15 and completed his Recreational Pilot Certificate (RPC) shortly after leaving high school. Now close to completing his Exercise Science degree, he still takes the time to get up for an early morning sunrise flight – with coffee in hand. Following his degree, Wiehan’s sights are set on obtaining his Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL), and a taildragger endorsement is on the radar too.

As for Errol and Mariette, the dream is to one day retire to their own private airstrip and stay involved in aviation for as long as possible. They’re not done with Global Aviation Products yet though, and Errol has plans to start a world-class Builders Assist facility, where kit builders can build their Sling aircraft under expert supervision.

While each member of the van Rensburg family have taken their own path when it comes to aviation, they share a similar outlook on flying. When asked about the best piece of advice they’ve received, each family member repeated the same mantra; “If you don’t know, you know”. That is, if you don’t know whether you should be flying, you know not to fly. It’s clear safety has been a large part of the van Rensburg family’s approach since the children were young.

Aviation will no doubt remain an important part of the van Rensburg family’s lives. Both Marena and Wiehan are keen to take partners, friends and family members up with them, potentially inspiring even more budding aviators to start their own journey. For RAAus’ mission to put a pilot in every home, there’s really no better example than this!