She Was Also The First Woman To Fly The Gripen In 2004
South African Air Force (SAAF) Captain Catherine Labuschagne
made her solo Gripen flight at the South African airbase Makhado in
the Limpopo province of South Africa last week. The flight gives
her a place record books as the first female Gripen pilot.
Captain Labuschagne is one of several women serving as pilots in
the SAAF. She previously flew the Impala jet before she qualified
on the Hawk Lead-In-Fighter trainer to prepare her for the
transition to South Africa’s front line fighter.
She did fly in the rear seat of Gripen back in 2004, then making
history as the first woman pilot to fly Gripen, this time however,
she took to the skies in a single seat Gripen and the instructors
at 2 squadron stayed on the ground. The four newly qualified Gripen
fighter pilots will strengthen SAAF and the 2 squadron as they will
reach operational status sometime next year when their conversion
course is completed.
The South African government ordered 26 Gripen C/D fighter
aircraft in 1999 as part of a “strategic defence