SA Air Force (SAAF) Hawk pilot Major Mandisa Mfeka was honoured with the Excellence in Aviation award at the third annual awards for Bring Her Up: Women of Firsts.
The Major is the first black woman combat pilot in the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and was part of the Air Force component at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration in May a year ago.
Mfeka grew up in Durban and was introduced to aviation when watching aircraft at Virginia Airport, north of the harbour city. Medicine was her initial career choice, but the aviation bug bit and after considering aeronautical engineering, she signed up for the SAAF. Good grades saw her meet all requirements and her Air Force career started in 2008. Two years later she started the pupil pilot’s course at Central Flying School, AFB Langebaanweg, and received her wings in 2011 on completion of the course.
Her entry into the combat flying arena saw her posted to AFB Makhado, where 85 Flying School, operating the SAAF’s Hawk Mk 120 lead-in fighter trainer, is located.