Female Pilot Changes Aviation Sector In Africa
Refilwe Ledwaba is the South African Pilot inspiring the next generation of female engineers and pilots in Africa.
She is also a flying instructor and an advocate for women's rights in South Africa. She is passionate about flying aircrafts and in an interview with CNN, she had this to say about one of the planes she pilots- "This is my favorite aircraft, it is called a king air 200. I have gotten approximatively 100 hours of flying on this aircraft. I absolutely love it. It just performs," she told CNN.She made history by becoming the first black female pilot to fly for the police service in South Africa. "For a long time, I was the only black female that was holding the highest license for helicopters... but being the first for me is not important. The important is the 20th person, the 30th person, then we can start talking", she said. The numbers are hard to come by but according to a report by the university of Nebraska, women make up less than 10 % of pilots, maintenance technicians and airline executives globally. Refilwe is on mission to improve the percentage of women in aviation all over the world, starting with Africa.
As a flight instructor, she teaches young pilots in training on how to operate aircrafts as well as educates them on the necessary skills they need to have as pilots. She also runs the Girls Fly Program in Africa (GFPA), a foundation with the focus of introducing elementary students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. ‘’I am working to diversify the face of women in the aviation industry by being accessible and being visible’’ she said. Over the past years, GFPA has held space camps in South Africa, Botswana and Cameroon. There is a GFPA space camp scheduled for Kenya next year.