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African Trailblazers

HomeAfrican Trailblazers

Changing The Face Of Aviation In Africa ~ Meet Our African Trailblazers

This is an interactive map. Hover your cursor over the countries and see where our African 99s trailblazers members are from. 


Ivana AlvaresMarshall from Malawi

PHOTO-2019-03-24-20-11-47 (1)

Dina Dawod from Egypt 

Edith Diop from Ivory Coast

  • Commercial pilot 
  •  Youngest Airline female pilot In Ivory Coast and Senegal
  • First female pilot in Senegal to fly airlines 
  • First female pilot in Ivory Coast to fly airlines 
  • Edith received the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership Award in Transport  July 2018 MATAO African West African Transport Market

    5th edition of the West African Transport Grand Prix: Promote excellence in all transport sub-sectors in order to create healthy competition within the operator community, improve the quality of services and make the sector modern and efficient. The award was presented by the The Honourable Minister of Transportation Mr Amadou Koné

  • She was a recipient of the Ivory Coast National Excellence Award in the field of Air Transport in August 2019. 7th Edition: Established in 2013, the award of excellence allows the Government to reward the best citizens for their hard work and for their exemplary nature. The award was presented by Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly. 
  •  Edith has featured in the following podcast 
  • Edith features in Ayana Webzine
Ashaba photo compressed

Ashaba Faridah from Uganda

Laura Ilunga from South Africa

  • 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.
  • Throughout her career she has achieved a few awards. In 2012 she was awarded her first military medal, the SANDF Tumelo Ke Katghleho (General Service Medal) for distinguished military service directly or in support of a military operation.
  • Laura was a 2013 finalist and the runner up in the General Sector category for the South Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government Awards.
  • The following year she awarded the Flight Safety International Bell 206 type rating scholarship through the Whirly-Girls (International Women Helicopter Pilots).
  • Last year she was recognised by the Kingdom of the Netherlands as one of South Africa’s 50 most inspiring women in the STEM sector, through the Dutch embassy’s Inspiring Fifty non-profit organisation.
  • She ended the year with a feature in DESTINY magazine’s Power of 40 issue, which profiles powerful young achievers under the age of 40 

Amina Jarso 

  • Private Pilot Licence 
  • Bachelor of Engineering in Aeronautics (design option)
  • Master of Science in Air Traffic and Transport Engineering
  • Fluent in nine languages 
  • Studying towards a Commercial Pilot Licence and PHD in Operations Research (Tentative Research proposal title; Statistical  Analysis and Planning Of Domestic Airport Networks For The Single African Air Transport Market)



Abimobla Jayeola from Nigeria 

  • Commercial Pilot Licence on Helicopters 
  • First Female Nigerian Pilot who graduated from Bristow Academy Florida USA. 
  • First Female Helicopter Captain in Nigeria 
  • Holds a Bachelors degree in Environmental Management and Toxicology from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta
  • Masters Degree in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. 

Kaone Kamanakao from Botswana

  • She was awarded with The South African Designated Pilot Examiner’s Excellence award. Amongst a pool of more than 100 pilots, she was selected as the candidate that demonstrated the best aircraft handling and professionalism
  • She is the founding President of Women in Aviation Botswana Chapter. Parallel to WAIB, she also runs Girls Fly Program in Africa Botswana (GFPA Botswana) under the GFPA Foundation umbrella set up by Refilwe Ledwaba. GFPA Foundation is currently running in South Africa, Botswana, Cameroon and Kenya. 

Yolanda Kaunda from Malawi

  • The first female Captain flying for Malwian Airlines.
  • Made history in Malawi on 16th March 2017 operating an all female operated and supported flight from Malawi to Tanzania.
  • Mentor to many youth in Malawi.

Captain Irene Koki Mutungi from Kenya


Captain Irene Koki Mutungi (Commonly referred to as Koki Mutungi ) is a professional pilot in Kenya. She undertook her studies with Kenya School of Flying for her Private Pilots License and undertook her Commercial Pilots License and other ratings at Crabtree Aviation, Oklahoma, USA. She. Is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Aviation Safety management.


Her career started with Kenya Airways the National Carrier of Kenya where she rose through the ranks to the current position of Captain of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.


She is a lady of many firsts


She was employee 001 Female Pilot at Kenya Airways and was the only female for the airline for close to 6 years when she was hired in 1995. In 2004 she became the first African Woman to qualify to command a Boeing 737 and led Africas’ first all female crew on a flight the same year. She was the first female on the African Continent to become certified as a Captain of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.


In 2014 she was named among “The 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa” by Forbes Magazine. She has received numerous awards , among them Business Daily’s “ Top 40 under 40 “ for 5 consecutive years , Women4Africa Award (UK) in 2014 , Akwaaba – Africa Travel Award ( Nigeria ) 2009 and 2017 amongst others. She was also featured on CNN International as a “Change Maker” in 2020.


Koki is a well rounded Pilot with a wealth of experience from both the private and public sector spanning over 20 years. She has been successful in mentoring young ladies and positively impacting the female population, especially in Kenya, who have repeatedly cited her as their reason for becoming Pilots.


Captain Koki Mutungi is a certified pilot who sits on various boards. Tapping into her experiences and industry insights, she has previously spoken at several national and international forums. Her passion on Aviation and Mentoring is evident and her presentations have largely revolved around these issues.


She also has an interest in mentoring and coaching young upcoming Aviation professionals and in her free time participating in mentoring sessions with various schools and colleges. Her vision is to start a foundation to mentor and later fund training especially for the less privileged boys and girls helping them reach for the stars by going for what they believe in. Koki enjoys reading, writing, gardening and spending time with her family. She is a mother of two boys.

Kgomotso Phatsima from Botswana 


Samantha Schnetler from South Africa 

  • South African Airline Transport Pilot Licence Helicopters / Helicopter instructor.
  • Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) trained Pilot in South Africa.
  • One of the youngest female helicopter Captains at age 20 for the South African Police Service.
  • Bachelors of Commerce Degree
  • Post graduate qualification in Financial planning
  • Command on a first all female crew flight in the Mpumalanga province saving the life of a one month old baby girl ~ read more about it
  • Samantha is a senior financial planner, she  assists pilots take control of their finances in the same way they control their aircraft and guide them in spreading their wings of wealth. 
  • You can also read more about financial services on risk and investment planning solutions for corporates and individuals in the aviation industry at

Veronica Zunic from Malawi 

  • Airline Transport Pilot Licence
  • First female pilot of Malawi in 1992.
  • First female pilot who flew for Air Malawi, founded in March 1964 went into liquidation in 2012. 
  • First female presidential pilot of Malawi. 
  • Flew in Zimbabwe and South Africa from 1986-1989
    Air Malawi from 1989-1998 ( HS 748, ATR 42, B737, DO228)
    TransAsia Airways 1998-2001 (ATR72)
    Vietnam Airlines 2001-2018 (ATR 72, A320/1, A330)
  • 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.