Black excellence

Nandi Zama, 31, becomes first black woman to qualify to fly C-130 military cargo plane


MEET NANDI Zama, who, at 31, has made history by becoming the first black woman to fly the C-130 military cargo plane.

On Friday (March 24), the South African-born pilot touched down the military cargo plane C-130 at the Waterkloof Air Force base and made her way into the history books.

Nandi joined the military from high school and then “went through military training”.

“I was at the central flying school in 2006 and got my wings in December. In 2007 I was transferred to 41 Squadron‚” she said.

Her history-making task included flying the C-130 and being responsible for the safe arrival of both the aircraft and crew members on board from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

South African National Defence Force (SANDF) spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Ntsikelelo Mantshongo said Nandi’s command of the C-130 came with a huge responsibility.

“If there’s a mission and she needs to take the aircraft‚ she needs to assemble a team that includes specialists on board. The plane can take up to 160 people‚” he said.

In 28 Squadron‚ where she is now‚ she commands the C-130 cargo plane‚ a four-engine military transport aircraft.

While now in command of the aircraft‚ she has already been flying it for four years.

Asked how it feels to be in the driver’s seat, she said: “Flying the plane is not something you can explain in words. You just have to be there to experience it.”


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