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As a pioneering female figure in the aviation space, Major Mandisa Mfeka is proving the sky is the limit



Major Mandisa Mfeka is breaking barriers as the first black female combat pilot in the South African Air Force.

Her passion for flying was instilled at a young age, and she has since overcome numerous obstacles to achieve remarkable milestones in a male-dominated industry.

As a combat pilot, she’s displayed exceptional skills and leadership qualities, earning the respect of her peers and superiors. One of her career highlights was flying one of the five SAAF Hawk MK 120 aircraft over Loftus Versveld Stadium during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration in 2019.

Beyond her military achievements, Major Mandisa advocates for gender equality and empowerment in aviation. She encourages young girls to pursue their dreams in STEM, mentoring them to thrive and transcend societal barriers.

Her ground-breaking accomplishments and unwavering dedication serve as an inspiration to aspiring aviators, especially women and people of color, making her a role model in the aviation industry and beyond.

We sat down with Major Mandisa to chat about her career journey and sky-high ambitions.

What was the catalyst for your love for aviation? When did you realize you wanted to become a pilot?

When I was 5 years old my mother took us to Virginia Airport in Durban to watch the Airshow. At that stage we were quite young and had no idea that a career in aviation, let alone becoming a pilot was a possibility. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old when I was doing research on careers in maths and science that I came across an advert by the South African Air Force recruiting pilots and navigators that I discovered that this career was a possibility for me! I immediately wrote to them and embarked on joining the SAAF in order to become a pilot.

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