It is not uncommon for a man to be in command of a South African Air Force (SAAF) station, it is still not a common place to see a woman in such an esteemed position despite it being 2018.
Phetogo Molawa has changed that narrative and officially become the first black woman to command the Charlie Flight SAAF station in Port Elizabeth last Saturday.
Molwana is originally from the Free State, and completed her pilot training for the South African National Defense Force in 2007 at the tender age of 21 years old. She also made history as the first black female pilot in South Africa.
The Lieutenant Colonel of the base, who is entering his 20th year of service, handed command over to Molwana on Saturday.
Lucy Lastic, mother of the man who trained Molwana, congratulated the new commander on her achievement, and affectionately called her ‘Pets’.
My son handing over command in PE SAAF yesterday to not only the first Black, but the first woman! I’m shocked it didn’t make more media coverage. She’s a great chopper pilot & single mom. Take a bow, Phetogo (‘Pets’) you’re a star. pic.twitter.com/wrSaVEdJd8
— Lucy Lastic (@rosiecrackers) June 9, 2018
Many have taken to social media to congratulate Molwana.
— Ms Bally 🦋 (@Bally_M) June 10, 2018
— Kay (@keitsengt) June 10, 2018
All black women of the world (and supporters of all things women), please take a bow
— Elias Phaahla (@Elias_Phaahla) June 10, 2018
Can we please recognize greatness https://t.co/qKaoKVVRBq
— Meme Factory 🇿🇦 (@MemeFactorySA) June 10, 2018
The SAAF is the country’s official Air Force, and was established in 1920.
It was in service during World War II, as well as the Korean War, and also offered support during the Border War. The end of the Border War saw SAAF’s aircraft numbers reduced drastically due to economic pressure.
Today the SAAF has limited air combat capability and has been restructured towards regional peace-keeping, disaster relief and maritime patrol operations.