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Friday, 31 July 2015

A LEGEND FEMALE PILOT: Captain Chipo M Matimba.

Captain Chipo M Matimba is a product of Girls' High School Harare, (1987-1992). A top stream student, she also played first team basketball and was Senior prefect and House Captain for Speke House. 


Captain Chipo M Matimba joined the Air Force of Zimbabwe as an Officer Cadet and a Trainee Pilot in 1994.

The Pilot Training Course comprised gruesome military training, Aviation Ground School (academic studies) and Basic Flying Training. The training produces pilots who can fly an airplane in good and bad weather conditions during the day or night, perform aerobatics, spinning and formation flying. Besides acquiring flying skills, the pilots are also schooled on military principles, discipline and ethics and are prepared to become leaders in the military role of the Defence of National Territorial Sovereignty and Integrity.
Captain Chipo M Matimba.
Captain Chipo M Matimba.
On completion of the course, Chipo graduated to the rank of Air-Sub Lieutenant in 1996, as the first woman to successfully complete a Pilot Training Course in the Air Force of Zimbabwe at an Officers Commissioning and Wings Parade Ceremony presided over by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Comrade RG Mugabe.

At the ceremony, President RG Mugabe in his speech, challenged young women to "emulate Chipo's feat" of breaking into a domain that was gender stereotyped as male and withstanding all the gruesome challenges it presented. The graduation ceremony was not the end of flying training for Chipo. In fact it was just the beginning as Chipo had to learn to fly the military aircraft as a weapon, firing all sorts of arsenal in gunnery, rocketry and bombery. This Conversion Course prepares the basic pilot for battle. During the training, targets are set up at firing ranges and the student is trained then assessed on his/her ability to hit the targets. After completing the Conversion course, Chipo graduated to the rank of Air Lieutenant as an Air to Ground Attack Combat Pilot.

In 1998 Chipo was presented with a Junior Chambers Outstanding Young Zimbabwean award for her achievement as the first female combat pilot. In the execution of her duty in the Air Force of Zimbabwe Chipo rose to the rank of Flight Lieutenant and took part in the Democratic Republic of Congo Operation Sovereign Legitimacy. She was promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader during her training as a Flying Instructor in 2004. Chipo graduated as the First Female Flying Instructor at a ceremony presided over by the Vice President Joyce TR Mujuru a woman who has always been an inspiration to not only Chipo, but to many women nationwide.

The graduation ceremony was the highlight of Chipo's military flying career as the event landmarked two firsts in Zimbabwe. Vice President JTR Mujuru was the first female Vice President awarding the best student trophy to the first female military flying instructor. The challenges faced in her chosen career revolved around being accepted by some of the male folk, a hurdle she soon tackled by performing just as well as her male counterparts.


At the time of joining the military the drive for equal opportunities for both men and women was already in full swing in other sectors, and this eased any gender tension. After completing her contract in the military, Chipo joined the civil aviation sector after attaining a Commercial Pilots' Licence and joined Air Zimbabwe as a First Officer in 2006. During both roles as a military and commercial pilot Chipo has been invited to numerous events as a motivational speaker to both young men and women, especially school children. Her main focus is on encouraging people from all walks of life to break into any challenging domains that are deemed only for a specific gender.

After attaining an Airline Pilots' Licence Chipo was promoted to Captain in 2010, a position she currently holds as she diligently serves her country at the National Airline, the proud flag career of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Air Zimbabwe. A good day for Chipo in her "lofty office" of the Boeing 737 is a day that ends with smiles on the faces of the passengers she flies. For Captain Chipo M Matimba, the sky is not the limit, it is her home.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: http://www.ghs.ac.zw/profile.html

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