Pioneering South African Pilot Presented with Global AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award


South African helicopter and airplane pilot and social entrepreneur, Refilwe Ledwaba has been awarded a coveted AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award by the international aviation news outlet’s Global Executive. With the presentation of this award, AeroTime marks the six-month milestone of its Women in Aviation campaign.


The award recognizes Ledwaba’s career-long dedication to achieving equity and diversity in aviation. In particular, she is recognized for founding the Girls Fly Programme in Africa Foundation, which has reached over 70,000 girls across Africa, educating them about aviation and aerospace at a grassroots level.


With a diverse resume, Ledwaba is a qualified helicopter and fixed-wing pilot, flight instructor, professional drone pilot and social entrepreneur. A true trailblazer, she was the first black woman in South Africa to gain an Air Transport Pilot helicopter license. She also spent a decade flying aeroplane and helicopter missions for the South African police.


More recently she established the Girls Fly Programme in Africa Foundation, currently operating in Botswana, Cameroon, Kenya and South Africa. It develops and supports programmes to make aviation and space a viable career choice for girls.


Ledwaba becomes the 23rd recipient to be awarded the AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award. Previous recipients cover five continents and have all made exceptional contributions to the aviation industry in areas including safety, environmental impact and inter-generational outreach.


Refilwe Ledwaba, recipient of the AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award commented:


“I’m very grateful to receive this award, and do so not only on my own behalf, but also for the Girls Fly Programme in Africa Foundation. Diversity and inclusion have always been an important issue for me and it’s gratifying to see more and more companies understanding this too. I hope the recognition afforded by this AeroTime Aviation Achievement Award will significantly amplify our call for action across the industry.”


Chief Executive of AeroTime, Richard Stephenson OBE, who presented the Award to Refilwe Ledwaba, said:


“It was a genuine honor and pleasure to speak to Refilwe and congratulate her on this award. Many of us across the industry are aware of the need to improve representation. In Refilwe we have someone who has not only broken barriers herself, but is taking tangible action to make change happen. Anyone who can impact 70,000 lives, like Refilwe has with the Girls Fly Programme Africa Foundation, is truly deserving of this award.”