|Asnath Mahapa - the first black female trainee pilot at South African Airways|
In your line of work you probably see a lot of people leaving South Africa, what makes you stay?
I have not yet had a reason to leave the country. There is a whole lot abandoned by me leaving, like my family - and, by leaving, I would basically be giving up on the development of SAA and South Africa in general.
Do you think the youth feel positive about their country?
Yes, the youth do have a positive vibe going too. There is a lot of ambition out there: young people are now dreaming bigger.
You are still very young and a lot of South Africans see you and your generation as the future. How does your being the first black female trainee pilot contribute to the growth of SA?
I think it's something that could open a lot of doors for young black South Africans - and especially women. Me, achieving what I did, I hope it can give more black people flying as a career option.
Asnath Mahape was SAA’s first black female pilot trainee after she successfully completed her multi-engine and instrument rating training in 2003. Asnath already held two pilot’s licences obtained through Progress Flight Academy in Port Elizabeth, when she entered SAA’s cadet pilot training programme.
She is originally from Rosenkrans, near Polokwane (Pietersburg) in Limpopo. She used to visit an aunt in Midrand, whose neighbour was an airline pilot. Asnath was fascinated by his job and after he lent her his aviation books and magazines, she was hooked. After matriculating in 1996 from Motse Maria Secondary School, a Catholic school near Polokwane, she went to the University of the Western Cape to study engineering while working part-time to earn money for flying lessons. She obtained her private pilot’s licence in 1998. In 1999, she was the first black woman to obtain her commercial pilot’s licence through Progress Flight Academy, after she inherited some money. A year later, with 200 flying hours, she joined the SAAF where she spent two years in ground school. Finally she was accepted as a student by SAA. Asnath obtained her Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence in 2003. She was nominated for the 2003 Shoprite Checkers/SABC2 Woman of the Year Award. She suffered a setback when Ross Air, which was giving her training, ran into financial difficulties in 2005. Another airline had to be found to continue her training.
In March 1997, four female cadet pilots received their wings as part of the second group of SAA cadets to be trained in Adelaide, Australia. After graduation they joined SA Express for further training.
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