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“I was the only woman in my class the whole time” – South Africa’s First Black Female Pilot Asnath Mahapa Shares her Inspiring Story

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Asnath Mahapa4

Asnath Mahapa

Asnath Mahapa’s father never liked the idea of her becoming a pilot, but his resistance didn’t stop her. She did not only become a pilot, she became South Africa’s first black female pilot.

“When I told my father I wanted to become a pilot, he never even entertained the idea,” she told CNN.

As a teenager, she was fascinated by planes, and made up her mind then to fly a plane.

“It just dawned on me that those big things that we see in the skies, someone is actually in charge of them. I thought if someone can fly this thing, that means I can also do it,” she said.

Mahapa started flight school after dropping out of the University of Cape Town, one year after she enrolled for a course in electrical engineering.

But flight school came with its own challenges.

“I was the only woman in my class the whole time,” she said. “I had to work very hard. I had to probably work ten times harder than the men that I was with in the classroom,” she added.

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

Asnath Mahapa5

She took to the skies in 1998 as the first black female pilot in South Africa.

“I didn’t know I was the first black woman until 2003, until about four years later. And I was still the only one at the time and I did not know. Before I knew it I was on TV, front page of newspapers, and that came as a shock because I was still young, I was 22 at the time, I was very young,” she said.

In a bid to set the stage for others to follow, Mahapa opened the African College of Aviation in 2012.

“For me, it’s about trying to help women who aspire to become pilots. 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. Most of them they struggle with finances because it’s a very expensive industry.

I don’t think there will ever be enough women in the industry. 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, becoming an astronaut for that matter.

Boys must accept that girls can become anything they want and girls must believe in themselves that they can become anything that they want,” she said.

Despite the challenges Mahapa has no regrets about her decision to pursue a career in aviation.

“Ask any pilot, they’ll tell you, our view from our office is the best in the world, so why would you get bored doing a job like that?”

Photo Credit: CNN

10 Comments

  1. Tosin

    August 25, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    🙂

  2. AANUOLUWAPO OYEDELE

    August 25, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    inspiring

  3. John

    August 25, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Why is it that this kind of genuine female achievement article attract low coments from the so called naija feminist..but let it be a gossip article of a woman bashing her husband or boyfriend .. you will see 200+comment

    • Engoz

      August 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Spare us this your ‘fraudulent’ concern. This is actually some of us ‘normal’. We are used to strong successful women. This is how it should be. Get your inspiration from these women and move on. Now what do we consider abnormal? An abnormality is a Nigerian man like you acting out his violent tendencies to women. It is VERY appropriate to show our shock and disapproval, hence the over ‘200’ comments. Those over ‘200’ comments are obviously working, because I can see how you’ve turned yourself to the chief drama king of cyberspace. Sorry, this your emotional outbursts will not work. Change your strategy by being a good, loving man to your wife or girlfriend.

    • Damilola

      August 25, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      This woman is an inspiration.
      @John Thank you.
      Well, bellanaijarians only bark about feminism when it’s about bashing men and they expect to be taken seriously? I don’t think so.

  4. Harosheediyah

    August 25, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Cool and good

  5. Goalgeta

    August 25, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    She was determined to push on regards of the challenges that surrounded her. Therefore, no one can take her place in the ”history book” ….kudos to you ma’am!

  6. Goalgeta

    August 25, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    She was determined to push on regardless of the challenges that surrounded her. Therefore, no one can take her place in the ”history book” ….kudos to you ma’am

  7. Jay

    August 26, 2016 at 4:22 am

    I thought Hadiza Lantana Oboh was the first female pilot. The Nigerian lady who was gruesomely murdered in her home in 1998. Wasnt she Nigeria’s and Africa’s first? How is Mahapa the first? Hian

    • Athena S.A.

      August 26, 2016 at 8:32 am

      @Jay – I guess you didnt read the Title – Its said “South Africa’s First Black Female Pilot Asnath Mahapa Shares her Inspiring Story”

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