in Defence / Features

Combat pilot Mfeka is a SAAF history-maker

Posted 21 November 2019 · Add Comment

The South African Air Force (SAAF) now has its first black female combat pilot, writes Jon Lake.

Major Mandisa Mfeka is a Hawk Pilot with No85 Combat Flying School, AFB Makhado, and she hopes one day to convert to the Saab Gripen.
She began researching careers in maths and science, before a South African Air Force recruiting advert changed the course of her life.
“When I first discovered the air force, and found that I could be a pilot, I was hooked. I remember that night when I discovered that pamphlet; I slept with it in my bed. When I saw that I met the requirements, I was just dreaming about it.
“I didn’t even know that coming into this profession was possible for someone like me. I remember my grandmother first, and then my mother, used to take us to air shows at the Virginia Airport. We could not afford the ticket so, instead, we would park the car outside and watch the aircraft flying, and we would be mesmerised,” she said.
Mfeka joined the South African Air Force in 2008 and went to the Central Flying School at Langebaan, just outside Cape Town, in 2010, winning her wings in 2011.
It was while piloting the Astra (as the Pilatus PC-7 Mk II is known in South Africa) that she was tasked to fly the Nelson Mandela funeral flypast. But, on the day, the cloud base was too low and the 16-ship Astra formation was cancelled, with helicopters taking their place.
Mfeka’s most memorable flight was her first solo formation trip in the Hawk.
“For the first time you realise that you are fully in control of this aircraft – the more so when you’re in a complicated or advanced flying manoeuvre. So, you’re banking and you’re maintaining station. That’s when you realise how far you’ve come, how much you’ve accomplished and the self-confidence… it makes you want to punch the cloud!
“That’s when I was reassured that this is where I am meant to be; this is what I want to do for the rest of my life – if God will just bless me!”
 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

The search is on to plug the MRO gap

With pressure mounting for more maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities throughout the continent, Chukwu Emeke looks at the situation in west Africa.

AIME leaps into digital

Airlines are encouraged to take a quantum leap into digital and learn to think like the world’s largest innovators and disruptors in February.

Dakar at the double for 2AS

Senegal’s Blaise Diagne International Airport (BDIA) in Dakar has joined forces with global MRO player, Air France International/KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFIKLME&M), to provide support for both Air Senegal and airlines using

Boeing postpones first flight of 777X due to poor weather

Boeing is postponing the 777X first flight that was scheduled to take place today, January 23, due to weather.

SAA operates new Airbus A350-900 to JFK powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine

South African Airways (SAA) new Airbus A350-900 operated its first international flight from O.R Tambo International (ORTIA) airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport.

Bombardier gets green light for avionics upgrade on Learjet aircraft

Bombardier has announced that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has certified the latest update to the popular Garmin G5000 avionics suite aboard Learjet aircraft.

AVAFA20SK2207050320
See us at
AVMENA20 BT1309100620AVAFA20BT2207050320