South Africa female pilots


Captain Annabel Vundla and First Officer Refilwe Moreetsi are not just queens of the sky, they are history makers. The amazing pilots, who fly South African Airways planes, became the first black African female pilots to operate an SAA flight in its 88 years of existence.

Captain Annabel Vundla and First Officer Refilwe Moreetsi operated the flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Tuesday, 25 October 2022. The whole crew on Flight SA346 was female.

Captain Vundla made history for the second time. She is SAA’s first black African female captain. She is also a military flight instructor and a Presidential pilot.

Meet Annabel Vundla And Refilwe Moreetsi

Captain Vundla was born in 1980 and attended Kingsway Christian School for her primary education before moving to Mmabatho High School from 1991 to 1997.

Upon completing her Matric, Captain Vundla joined the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for about two years. After serving in military training, she joined the South African Air Force in January 1999 and became a Presidential Pilot.

She has flown the Presidential Inkwazi BBJ1 (Boeing 737-700) jet, Falcon 50 and Citation II (C550) planes for 23 years.

In 2010, she joined South African Airways as a pilot., becoming the national carrier’s first black female captain.

Moreetsi attended Merensky High School from 2001 to 2005 before enrolling at Stellenbosch University. She attained a Higher Certificate in Military Studies and later a Bachelor of Military Science in Aeronautics/Aviation/Aerospace Science and Technology with distinction.

In 2006, she joined the South African Air Force as a pilot.

From 2008 to 2009, First Officer Moreetsi did a Pupil Pilot Course with the Central Flying School in Langebaanweg.

Despite achieving all these, First Captain Moreetsi felt this was not enough.

In 2010, she went to Starlight Aviation Group and got a Private Pilot’s Licence. The same year, she also went to the Helicopter Flying School.

From 2011 to 2013, while in the air force, Moreetsi was the Limpopo/Mpumalanga Branch Coordinator for the South African Women In Aviation.

The pilot then left the South African Air Force and joined South African Express Airways as First Officer from 2014 to 2016.

Two Black Female South Africa Pilots
Captain Annabel Vundla and First Officer Refilwe Moreetsi


First Officer Moreetsi’s academic pursuits resumed in 2016 when she enrolled at the Da Vinci Institute. In 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Business Management, specialising in Aviation Management.

From 2016 to date, she has been with South African Airways, where she was Senior First Officer and later promoted to Deputy Fatigue Risk Management Specialist.

In June 2022, First Officer Refilwe Moreetsi was promoted to Fatigue Risk Management Specialist.

She had words of inspiration to girls on the day of her historic flight with Captain Annabel Vundla this week:

“My message to young girls is that your dreams are valid. If this is a career you would like to follow, it is possible. Your gender and your race are not a barrier.”

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