Asnath Mahapaâ€™s fatherÂ never liked the idea of her becoming a pilot, but his resistance didnâ€™t stop her. She did not only become a pilot, she became South Africaâ€™s first black female pilot.
â€œWhen I told my father I wanted to become a pilot, he never even entertained the idea,â€ she told CNN.
As a teenager, she was fascinated by planes, and made up her mind then to fly a plane.
â€œIt just dawned on me that those big things that we see in the skies, someone is actually in charge of them. I thought if someone can fly this thing, that means I can also do it,â€ sheÂ said.
Mahapa started flight school after dropping out of the University of Cape Town, one year after she enrolled for a course in electrical engineering.
But flight school came withÂ its own challenges.
â€œI was the only woman in my class the whole time,â€ she said. â€œI had to work very hard. I had to probably work ten times harder than the men that I was with in the classroom,â€ she added.
â€œMy first time, I felt sick.Â I was persistent, I went back again, I went back until I stopped feeling sick,â€ she said.
She took to the skies in 1998 as the first black female pilot in South Africa.
â€œI didnâ€™t know I was the first black woman until 2003, until about four years later. And I was still the only one at the time and I did not know.Â Before I knew it I was on TV, front page of newspapers, and that came as a shock because I was still young, I was 22 at the time, I was very young,â€ she said.
In a bid to set the stage for others to follow, Mahapa opened the African College of Aviation in 2012.
â€œFor me, itâ€™s about trying to help women who aspire to become pilots.Â I still see a lot of black women going through the same things that I went through at that time. They still struggle to get jobs after they qualify.Â Most of them they struggle with finances because itâ€™s a very expensive industry.
I donâ€™t think there will ever be enough women in the industry.Â If I can change the world I would tell the girls go out there, do it and I will tell the boys there is nothing wrong with a girl becoming a pilot, becoming an astronaut for that matter.
Boys must accept that girls can become anything they want and girls must believe in themselves that they can become anything that they want,â€ she said.
Despite the challenges Mahapa has no regrets about her decision to pursue a career in aviation.
â€œAsk any pilot, theyâ€™ll tell you, our view from our office is the best in the world, so why would you get bored doing a job like that?â€