SA’s First Black Female Combat Pilot

Issued by: Staff writer – Joan Hendricks

Born in Ntuzuma, KwaZulu-Natal, Mandisa Mfeka is South Africa’s first black female combat pilot and says growing up she always thought she was going to end up in the medical field.

“One day I realised that becoming a doctor was not my dream. It was my dad’s dream for me. He wanted to be a doctor but ended up becoming a teacher.

“So, I had to sit and ask myself what was it that I wanted. I began researching careers in maths and science.

“A classmate was talking about wanting to be an aeronautical engineer and I thought that was so cool,” she told IOL.

Today she is a major and a combat pilot in the South African Air Force.

No looking back

Mfeka joined the South African Civil Authority (SAAF) in 2008 and started at the Central Flying School in Langebaan in 2010, where she successfully got her wings in 2011.

“From the moment I discovered the SAAF, I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and since then I haven’t looked back,” she says in an article on the Good Things Guy website.

“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.”

Mfeka said despite her industry being male-dominated, she is treated like an equal. She also has a message for young girls wanting to follow in her footsteps, saying maths, science and geography were important subjects.

“They must also attend air shows and interact with pilots. There are a few flight schools in Durban and I highly recommend a visit to those schools. Girls must try to do as much research as they can and ask lots of questions,” she said.