Mandisa Mfeka joined the South African Air Force in 2008 and earned her wings a year after starting flying school in 2010. Now she is South Africa’s first black female combat pilot.
In all its history, South Africa finally has a black female combat pilot. Her name is Major Mandisa Mfeka.
Mandisa's journey started when she was young. Her mother and her grandmother would take her to airshows at the Virginia Airport. However, instead of accessing the event venue, they would watch the displays from outside as they were unable to afford the entry fee. “We would park at the side of the airport and watch the planes take off. It was all very exciting,” she said in a press release by the South African Air Force (SAAF).
Mandisa joined the SAAF in 2008, in 2010 she started at Central Flying School in Langebaan and in 2011 she got her wings. "From the moment I discovered SAAF, I knew that’s what I wanted to do and since then I haven’t looked back.”
Mandisa originally thought she wanted to be a doctor but ever since she found out her love for aeronautical engineering in grade 10 she has never looked back. She says ” My journey as a combat pilot really shifted my perspective about what aviation and what being a military practitioner looks like. Nonetheless, becoming a combat pilot has been an amazing experience. It is such a dynamic environment and so mentally stimulating and I love it because I’m growing in my technical expertise and learning more about aerodynamics.”
In an interview with The Mercury, Mandisa, who matriculated from Queensburgh Girls’ High School, says her job has its fair share of challenges. “It is a male-dominated industry and you do miss having other women around. It is nice to have a woman to speak to and to talk about our jobs.”
One quote that Mandisa lives by is, “The sky is the baseline.” The quote means that the excellence bar that you pushed yesterday should be your starting point tomorrow.
Header Image Credit: Major Mandisa Mfeka
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