South Africa’s 1st Black Female Pilot Sets Stage for Others to Follow

Asnath Mahapa

Asnath Mahapa's father was against her becoming a pilot, but his resistance didn't stop her. Not only did she become a pilot, but Mahapa became South Africa's first black female pilot, CNN reports.

She started going to flight school after dropping out of the University of Cape Town. She faced a number of challenges, including being the only woman in her class “the whole time” and feeling sick the first few times she flew.


"My first time, I felt sick," she said. "I was persistent. I went back again; I went back until I stopped feeling sick."

With hard work and dedication, she became a pilot in 1998, gracing the front pages of newspapers and appearing on television screens as the first black woman in South Africa to do it, but she did not want to stop with that accomplishment.

"For me it's about trying to help women who aspire to become pilots," she said. "I still see a lot of black women going through the same things that I went through at that time. They still struggle to get jobs after they qualify."

In 2012 Mahapa opened the African College of Aviation, which she wants to use to teach, train and inspire a new generation of pilots.


"I don't think there will ever be enough women in the industry," she said. "If I can change the world, I would tell the girls, ‘Go out there, do it,’ and I will tell the boys there is nothing wrong with a girl becoming a pilot, [or] becoming an astronaut, for that matter."

Read more at CNN.

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