Ivana Alvares-Marshall - Founder & Governor of the African Section 99s
Born and raised in Malawi. At the tender age of 10 years old she dreamed of becoming a pilot. The dream started when she did a round the world trip and was emigrating to New Zealand with her parents. The round a world trip was not meant to be so, however circumstances made it happen that way. When she completed her high school education she still held onto her dream of flying and so it came to be. There were many challenges and obstacles she has faced throughout her career, one of the hardest was losing her best friend and roommate in a plane crash when she was learning to fly at the age of 17 years old. Apart from the flying side Ivana has also held numerous jobs Flight Instructing, Airport Administrator, organising fly-in events, these are some of the other attributes she has. Ivana’s aviation journey has taken her to so many wonderful countries, she has been flying for 20 years. She started her flying career in Malawi gaining a PPL then went to South Africa in pursuit of obtaining a South African Commercial Pilot Licence. Thereafter, she has attained two more licences under her belt namely the FAA CPL, CFI,CFII and EASA ATPL. She has always flown in the corporate sector of aviation. Flying the Learjet 45 and Cessna Citation Bravo Jet. Recently working for a private bank in Malawi on the King Air B200. She has been a member of the Arabian Section 99s for some years until very recently, when she was chosen for the post as African Section Governor. Ivana is the Founder and Governor of the African Section 99s. Her message to other females who aspire to become pilots, is never lose sight of your dreams, faith, perseverance and determination will help you achieve anything your heart desires.
Dr Andrea (Sibylle) Claussen
Sibylle is a medical doctor, executive coach, entrepreneur, freediver and musician. She lives in Cape Town/South Africa and Frankfurt M./Germany and accomplished her PPL-H on Robinson R 44 in 2011 at Helitransair Egelsbach near Frankfurt/Germany. She used to have a rating for helicopter Guimbal G2 but decided to focus on flying R 44.Flying helicopter as a private pilot has been a great journey and is an ongoing process and challenge to train and fly as much as she can. She loves the change of perspectives during every flight, the weather challenges and the feeling of freedom.
In her second home in Cape Town/Kommetjie - her favorite place to be - she enjoys the ocean, nature and the lifestyle. Flying heli in Cape Town area has been the most beautiful and amazing experience so far. More R44 flight-training in the bush near Port Elizabeth is planned for this this year.
She started to fly when she was 20. She always had her head up when she was a child, as she grew up close to an airport between the mountains. The aircraft had to fly over her head . She finally found a way to become a pilot when she was 20. She left Switzerland for Canada for 10 months to do PPL-CPL-IR. When she returned back she validated her Swiss license, ATPL frozen . It took her two years to find her first job. She really wanted to fly privately and work in the corporate sector in aviation. She managed to get her first jet job at 24 years old and became a captain at 31. She has flown Learjet (31-35-55-60) for more than 15 years, of which 10 years were spent flying in Africa. She had been living in Abidjan flying for Air Côte d'Ivoire on the Q400. First airline and first turboprop! She is now studying Aviation Management in Switzerland.
Dina Dawod - Vice Governor African Section
With a dream of traveling the world Dina became an air hostess. With each flight she was pulled toward the cockpit. It wasn’t long after she left her family behind and went to America to become a pilot. What makes her story unique is that Dina is from Egypt, and when she went to America her dream turned into the most challenging times of her life. Some might call a nightmare, but not Dina. From living through a plane crash, and then treated as a terrorist, she never quit. Today she flies as a first officer on the A320 for a corporate company in Egypt. Dina has been a member of the 99s for 4 years under the Arabian Section. She is the first Arab and African female pilot who got the scholarship from the 99s organization. Dina is now a member of the African Section and Vice Governor.
Commercial pilot, Founder and CEO Bambino life foundation (an organisation that promotes girl child education and empowerment among other things), Brand ambassador sky plus Young aviators club (an organization that encourages children to join the aviation industry) Director STEM Queens Uganda (an initiative that encourages young girls to join and participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics industry) Chair Global goodwill ambassadors Uganda chapter and a member of the Ninety nines.
Ashaba Was raised by a single parent in the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda.She is the first born of two children, she and her younger brother who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in business administration. Her background is humble and so it never crossed her mind that one day she would be a pilot because she couldn't afford having such an expensive dream due to her family's financial status. After her high school she attended the East African Civil Aviation academy to pursue a diploma in flight operations and management, it was a bit expensive but her mother said she would do anything to get her through the one year course, and she normally would be late on payment but she managed nevertheless.. It was during her time there that she fell in love with piloting, She was inspired by two lady pilots who attended the school. At the time it was inspiring seeing them fly, but above everything else knowing that there were not many women pilots who drove. She knew she wanted, and had to become one. Long story short, she got a scholarship and here she is today. She started Bambino life foundation straight out of high school, her humble background was her biggest inspiration because she knew what it meant to lack, back then being young . She didn't have funding and couldn't wait forever for it.
So she decided to start with whatever she had at that particular time, she would collect used items that were no longer needed and would give them to children that needed them the most. She was always passionate about children from the very start. She wanted to help them the best way she could, so she would collect used toys,books,shoes etc and give them to those who needed them most. With time after becoming a pilot, She wanted to use her profession as a platform to reach out to young girls and inspire and encourage them to believe in themselves. So she started up the promoting girl child education and empowerment project. Through the project she empowers young girls in rural areas by teaching them hands on skills to promote sustainability. They are now a team of young energetic people who want to bring change to their communities and country as a whole.
Originally from Eritrea, East Africa, grew up in Ethiopia watching planes takeoff and land at the capital city of Addis Ababa International Airport. With a yearning for travel, it was Sophie’s childhood dream to work for an airline. But with a keen focus on education, she aspired to first complete her college studies before pursuing a career in aviation. She graduated from Addis Ababa University with a bachelor’s degree in foreign languages and literature in June of 1989.
That same month, rather than follow the more traditional path for a woman of that time and pursue a role as a flight attendant, Sophie chose instead to apply for an 18-month pilot training program, and for the first time in the 26-year history of the Ethiopian Airlines’ Flight Academy, she became the first woman to enter the school. Ms. Ghezai earned the distinction of becoming Ethiopian Airlines’ first female commercial pilot in 1991. After receiving her wings, Sophie flew for six years in Africa, Asia and the Middle East as a first officer of the DHC-6 and the Boeing 737, as well as a flight engineer on the Boeing 707.
In 1997, Sophie’s career was placed on hiatus when she moved with her husband and her first son to Saudi Arabia, where women’s roles in the workplace were limited to segregated employment. She took this time to focus on family, raising her two young sons and finding time for personal hobbies, including reading, traveling, scuba diving as well as taking Arabic lessons. Several years later, when the family was relocated to Washington D.C., she immediately took to flying again. Sophie took lessons at Dulles Aviation to convert her Civil Aviation Pilot License to a Federal Aviation Administration certificate, receiving her Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) to fly in the United States. Once complete, she again took to the skies with Atlantic Coast Airlines in 2001, which later became Independence Air (FLYi), as a first officer on the J-41 and CRJ-200.
Unfortunately, when the airline filed for bankruptcy in 2005, her flying career was again placed on hold. As a single mother, she made the decision to enter the real estate business, which provided the flexibility she needed to give more time to her children. She also took this time, with support from her family, to complete Safety Management System (SMS) courses and Audit course at MITRE, and internship at the Air Navigation Bureau at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) followed by State Safety Program (SSP) course at ICAO. Following this, she earned her master’s degree in aviation management and aviation aerospace safety systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which she completed in 2016. She credits the support of her family and partner helping her to keep her dream alive and enable her to continue to meaningfully pursue her passion for aviation.
With her two boys in college at Bowdoin and Swarthmore, Sophie joined Airlines for America (A4A) in 2016, as the director of aviation safety and operations, where she now works closely with the nation’s leading airlines to advise, evaluate and develop standards and procedures that maximize safety and improve operational efficiency. https://wjla.com/amp/features/working-women/pilot-sophie-ghezai-safety-director-airlines-for-america.
Sophie also devotes her time to personally moving the needle on the U.S. airline industry’s commitment to making a career in aviation accessible for people of all genders and backgrounds. For the last fifteen years, Sophie has participated in Women in Aviation International (WAI), Organization for Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP), the International Association of Women in Aviation (IAWA) as well as the Aero Club of Washington DC. She often serves as mentor to young women, and sponsors their travel to attend industry events, empowering them to take an active role in aviation.
Thinking back on her life, she remembers being a 6-year-old girl full of dreams in primary school. One day her English teacher asked her the most difficult question she has ever been asked. “What would like to become one day when you grow up, Hannah?” She stood there, looking up to her with a million things running in her mind simultaneously. Suddenly a smile ran across her face as she remembered her mother talking about aeroplanes and how exciting it was being 30,000 feet up in the sky. Without second guessing she answered her teacher “A Captain” that is what I would like to become, Madam.
Graduating from high school, her dad disapproved of her idea to become a pilot as he knew the expenses involved and being a protective parent, he did not want her to be disappointed.
Late 2016, she saw an aeroplane flying in a beautiful Malawian night sky, right there and then she realised “I already have wings in my heart and soul, all I need to do is to take the leap of faith spread those wings and fly”.
She took action and saved every penny earned from a low-income career and got herself registered into an aviation school. No words can explain the joy and pride in her father eyes as he looked at her whilst staring at her Student Pilot Licence and test Scores. She is looking forward to hold her Private Pilot Licence and ultimately fly an A380 with one of the prestigious airlines. Now she knows even the impossible is made possible when you believe.
Laura was born in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo; however South Africa has been her home from a young age. She matriculated from Pretoria High School for Girls in 2003 and in late 2004 began her dream of becoming a pilot. Laura received her South African Air Force (SAAF) military pilot wings in July 2007 on the PC7 MkII Astra, then trained towards a rotor wing licence.
A few months later she attained her Helicopter Private Pilot Licence at Starlite Aviation, then further completed her SAAF military helicopter conversion course. She flew many national and international military missions on the medium transport Atlas Oryx helicopter as a member of 15 Squadron, home based at Air Force Base Durban from 2008 until early 2013.
Laura holds both the South African (SACAA) multi-engine instrument Helicopter and Airplane Commercial Pilot Licences, as well as the American (FAA) Commercial Pilot Rotorcraft instrument and the Private Pilot Airplane Airman Certificates. She is currently employed as a contract rotor wing and fixed wing pilot for Starlite Aviation Operations, through Crew Resources International, flying the King Air 200, Beechcraft 1900, Super Puma 332L and 332C1e (H215), Puma 330J and BK117 C1. She worked for Starlite Ops in Kosovo from 2012-2014, and presently works for Starlite in Mali.
Abimbola Jayeola (BSc, MSc, FAA ATPL)
She hails from Ekiti State in Western Nigeria. She comes from a family of five and a background that holds educational achievement and academic pursuit as important values. This influenced her to pursue a career path in academics and research, obtaining a Bachelors’ degree in Environmental Management and Toxicology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta and a Masters in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
“Capt. Abi,” as she is fondly called, drew inspiration for life in the cockpit from reading articles on aviation and aerodynamics. She began fantasizing about flying aircrafts and imagined herself soaring at extreme heights while helping people and goods move from one point to another. Fresh out of graduate school, Abimbola completed an ab-initio training at Bristow Academy Titusville, Florida in 2008. In 2009, she did her type conversion on the Sikorsky 76 at Flight Safety International, West Palm Beach , Florida and graduated as the first Nigerian female pilot from Bristow Academy. She officially joined Bristow Helicopters Nigeria as a first officer in the same year.
In 2014, Abi was promoted to the rank of Captain, becoming the first female helicopter Captain in Nigeria. In over a decade’s worth of experience, Abi has been able to successfully navigate the challenges of a male – dominated profession. From career strides of managing different helicopter models, to working with her employer’s clients, these challenges have made her a better, smarter pilot always striving for excellence and setting new goals. Abi’s interests include agriculture, business, art and culture. She is married and lives in Lagos, Nigeria.
She began her aviation career in 2008 at Pretoria Flying School in South Africa. She was initially accepted into University to study Actuarial science but after attending an aviation career presentation she decided she wanted to become a pilot. She was fascinated with the prospect of a career that was so different and broad. Although she went through phases of her flight training where she struggled, she persevered. She opted to keep a good positive attitude and continue striving to become the best. She was determine to become a flight instructor so that she could share what she had learnt through teaching and mentoring.
Shortly after completing her flight instructor’s rating she began to work at Botswana’s first flying school. Bots Flying Academy now formally known as International Aviation. She attained her Grade 2 (advanced instruction) rating and moved on to become a charter pilot. . She ventured into ground training and soon became Operations Manager of Air Shakawe. She is curently employed as a Flight Operations Inspector with the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana.
A commercial Pilot, Captain on the Q400 dash 8. Yolanda is from Malawi and currently working for Malawian Airlines. She had a passion for aeroplanes since she was six years old and never dreamt of being anything else other than a pilot. She completed her flying training in 2009 and started working for the national airline Malawian Airlines. She commanded the first all female crew flight in 2017. She loves flying and is always trying to be the best version of herself by learning from all those around her. In her spare time she enjoys aerobics, watching movies and taking vacation trips with her family. Yolanda is a role model to many Malawian young girls in the country she has done numerous talks to the youth about her career and continues to do so inspiring the nation.
Taahira Khan from Zimbabwe. At the early age of 4 years old she attended her first airshow, ever since that day, her father always told her, she never stopped telling him one day she would fly those aeroplanes. After completing college it was still her dream to become a pilot. Due to financial difficulties she was only able to complete her PPL. She relocated to South Africa where she slowly worked towards gaining a CPL. The obstacles didn't deter her passion to complete her CPL. She washed aeroplanes at her flying school to gain free hour building hours and did administration work for the school for free training hours. She completed her ab-initio flight instructor rating. The flying school she trained at, employed her as an instructor. She now works for a company called Coastal Aviation as Caravan line pilot in Tanzania. She still aspires to be a Boeing 777 training captain in the future.
Her message to fellow females aspiring to become pilots is to never give up, hard work and perseverance will always pay off in the end.
Refilwe Ledabwa Founder of Girls Fly Programme In Africa (GFPA)
Refilwe is from South Africa a social entrepreneur, qualified helicopter and fixed-wing pilot, passionate about aviation youth development and women empowerment in Africa. She is the founder of Girls Fly Programme in Africa (GFPA) foundation, a registered NPC and PBO. She is a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society, council member of the Aeronautical Society of South Africa (AeSSA) outreach team..
Refilwe has been a member of the Ninety Nines for more than 10 years. She is a recipient of The Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship (AEMSF) for flight training.
Girl Fly Programme in Africa Foundation (GFPA) a non-profit organisation empowering young women to take up science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Every year she organises a flying camp for girls where they learn about robotics, coding and aviation. And then each of them gets a free flying lesson at some point during the year.
It’s true, the journey to becoming a Pilot starts off as a love story. She had almost given up on her dream. Ideally, she wanted to commence with her Pilot training straight after high school but was financially challenged and even then, had never been on board an airplane. Her parents were struggling back then so her only option was to start working. Within the following years she got a job at a pharmacy store where she met a 35-year-old lady who had just had her solo flight earlier that morning. The bizarre thing is that she herself had worked at the same pharmacy, in my junior position and watched the years go by until she decided to take charge. She introduced her to the concept ‘pay-as-you-go flying’ and advised that she too could fly while working.
so Busisiwe began her training in 2018 and her instructor asked if she had ever been on an airplane, she lied. Her first time in the sky was on her intro flight in a Piper Warrior. Nervous but unshaken, she knew it was destiny!
South Africa remains a developing country with various political issues that affect specific demographics; financial assistance in Aviation is still very scarce. As a black woman, she found it twice as hard to source out funds and an Aviation career is not so popular around her townships. They lack both the resources and opportunities. She worked for the company Diners Club International to help pay her tuition at U-fly Training Academy in Rand Airport. She is also an author and has published a short work of fiction with Black Letter Media in early 2018. She attends national airshows religiously and has had the honor to meet the iconic Puma Flying Lions.
What she enjoys most about flying is the sudden escape it offers once you take-off, to be able to leave behind all her doubts, problems and fears on the ground and focus only on what’s ahead. Scenery is a bonus!
She has a strong desire to subseuently build partnerships with more female pilots soon and reignite the passion that haunts financially incapable, aspiring pilots like herself.
Rebecca Manu from Ghana,a graduate from Radford University College Ghana,where she earned a Bsc in Business Administration (Human Resource management) after doing a course in passenger handling.
During her internship she met a friend who inspired and motivated her to become a pilot. She applied to CTK flight Academy in Ghana and finally gained admission to pursue her career in learning to fly. Her goal is to become an airline pilot.
Lî, is born and bred in Windhoek, Namibia.
She started her flying journey in George, South Africa and completed my Commercial Licence in 2014, at 43 Air School. Thereafter, she was a jump pilot flying a Cessna 182, at Skydive Namibia. In 2016, Her journey as a First Officer at , Air Namibia her country's national airline carrier. She completed her Embraer 145 rating in Zurich, Switzerland. After two years on the domestic fleet, she has now moved onto the Airbus A319 the regional fleet.
She has an unquestionable and unwavering passion for aviation, and especially to advocate for, empower and support of all females in the industry.
From South Africa Samantha started flying when she was 16 years old and money was tight, she had to catch snakes to sell to pay for her training at one stage. Changing landing lights, debt collecting, washing aircraft - she did it all. Her dream was to become a search and rescue pilot. And so she did it. She became one of the youngest Captains in the South African Police service at age 20. She is still passionate about rescue flying as she is still a captain on an Air Ambulance service in Joburg. Samantha also has a Bachelor of commerce degree from the University of South Africa (Cum laude) as well as a Post graduate qualification in Financial planning from the University of the Free State. She is an Aviation Specialist Financial planner for a local financial services provider and she helps pilots take control of their finances in the same way they control their aircraft and guide them in spreading their wings of wealth. She is passionate about helping women find their rightful place in a male dominated industry.
She is a pilot in training; currently studying towards her PPL at the UK based Gamston Flying School. A somewhat unique situation, as her husband is her teacher. She has had a fascination with the magic and possibilities of flying since a young age. Bridget has a first class honours degree in English, and a masters degree (distinction) in human resources international management and development. She is currently is studying for a degree in psychology and works as a psychological wellbeing practitioner for the NHS in the UK. Besides flying, she enjoys yoga, running, traveling and nature.
Dr Mandy Walker MSc(HRM), BA(Psych), FCIPD, MBPsychS, MIoD
Mandy recently decided to join the world of female aviators. She is always looking for the next challenge. What a wonderful challenge she has chosen, to gain her PPL. Her passion for learning to fly was fuelled by most of her family members who are pilots her two brothers who are pilots, her son who is a flight instructor and pilot, daughter in law Bridget (member of the African Section 99s) learning to fly and sister in law Ivana who is also a pilot.
Mandy is the founder of QiResults and operates as the Managing Director. She is a leading practitioner in understanding how people behave during change, and has demonstrated her expertise in how to raise and sustain workforce morale in difficult environments. Her doctoral studies demonstrate that change is a shift of one thing to another, whereas transformation includes a shift of thinking. She is acknowledged as an expert in transformation and culture shift.
By profession Mandy is an applied psychologist and specialises in finding practical solutions to complex soft problems. She works to reduce and remove the waste caused by unhelpful behaviours and limiting cultural norms in the workplace. She has gained a reputation for measurably improving workplace effectiveness in complex projects in public, private, and third sectors, particularly where the tax payer is ultimately paying the bill for the service or goods being provided. She leads a specialist consultancy team of engineers, strategists and psychologists, expert in helping organisations develop their internal practices and processes to deliver efficient, value for money output, with maximum behavioural impact.
She survives this complex world in which she operates because of strength drawn from steadfast friends, a passion for skiing, a wicked sense of humour, a firm faith in goodness, and the grounding that comes from being raised in a South Yorkshire coal mining family. Additionally, Mandy has two adult children who are professionals she describes as “my anchor in stormy weather, and simply two wonderful people who enrich my life far more than they ever impoverished my bank account!”
It was love at first solo. "For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. " ~ Leonardo da Vinci
She grew up with an aviation background. Her father was a pilot. First for the Kenyan Airforce and then for the national carrier. She wasn’t always sure what she wanted to do which is how she ended up with a degree in economics. It all came together for her though when she came back from studying in South Africa. Her dad was the captain on the flight. That flight changed the entire course of her life. She wanted to be up there, with him. She got accepted into flying school at Wilson airport which ironically is also called Ninety Nines. It was all new and touch and go at first but it came full circle when she flew for the very first time by herself. It was love at first solo. She hasn’t looked back since. She has gone from training on a Cessna 172 to flying a bombardier next gen Q400 and in the last few weeks she attained her ATPL. What she learnt and is still learning from her experience is that where there is a will, there will always be a way.
A pioneer in the aviation history of Malawi. Veronica was the first female pilot of Malawi in 1992 she flew for Air Malawi. She was the first female presidential pilot of Malawi. She is currently a sim Instructor / Examiner TRE of the A320, A330 & A350.
Veronica has an aviation training company called GreenDot Aviation owned by herself, her husband (Mladen Zunic) and Luke Fleming.
The company provides high quality training to airbus pilots. It is an EASA ATO (European Aviation Safety Agency Approved Training Organization).GreenDot Aviation have trained a large number of airlines in Asia. Some of them are: Bangkok Airway, Thai Smile, Thai Lion Air, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Cargo, Bamboo Airlines to name a few.