With only five active female Hot Air Balloon pilots in the country, South Africa’s first black female Hot Air Balloon pilot hopes her accomplishments could inspire more younger enthusiasts into the industry.
This after making history by meeting the requirements to acquire her hot air ballooning license earlier this month.
The sky is the limit for 26-year-old Semakaleng Mathebula. She recently entered the history books for being the country’s first black female hot air balloon pilot. Mathebula says a marketing gig at a hot air balloon company in 2018 sparked her interest in the sport.
“It was for the first time I’ve seen a hot air balloon. I was subsequently going to work in the industry. I fell completely in love. I haven’t looked back since,” says Mathebula.
Hot air balloon pilot Semakaleng Mathebula hopes to inspire more women:
There are currently only five active female Hot Air Balloon Pilots in the country. Semakaleng hopes to inspire more women into the industry.
“I really want to be an ambassador and have more people join the sport I don’t want it to end with Semakaleng being the first black female I wanna see more females in the sports.”
Training for Hot Air Balloon Pilots is expensive and inaccessible. A recent partnership between the Balloon and Airship Federation of South Africa (BAFSA) and the Department of Sports and Recreation made it possible for Semakaleng to acquire her training.
Trainer Flip Steyn says, “This shows to me that things in South Africa are changing for the better and that you get people from all walks of life joining us in this thing.”
Her family says they couldn’t be more proud. Her mother Sophie Mathebula says, “I’m really proud of her for what she has done for herself. My biggest concern was her driving very early in the morning at around three to four I was concerned about her safety.”
Enthusiasts can contact BAFSA for more information.