The South African Air Force Has Its First Black Woman C-130 Aircraft Commander


March 27, 2017

For the first time in the South African Air Force’s (SAAF) 97-year history, it has promoted a Black woman to become the commander of a C-130 military cargo plane. Her name is Major Nandi Zama. The 31-year-old joined the military after she graduated high school. “I went through military training and then I was at the central flying school in 2006 and got my wings in December”, said Zama.  

From there, Zama was transferred to the 41 Squadron, where she flew a single-engined utility aircraft called the Cessna Caravan. She then served in the 44 Squadron and got experience flying the Casa 212, a medium transport aircraft. Before making history as the first Black woman C-130 aircraft commander in the SAAF, Zama was flying the C-130 for four years.


On Friday, she successfully completed her first mission as the commander of the C-130 by flying a support flight from the Democratic Republic of Congo. If Zama could offer any advice to young girls who want to pursue a career in aviation, she would say:

“Make the best of it and don’t focus much on the fact that you are a girl. Rather use your power as a female and become as good as you can be….Being a female should not be a limiting fact, but instead an enhancing factor.”

Congratulations, Major Zama! Thank you for your service and blazing a trail for others to follow. 


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