26th October 2020
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Meet Amer Mangar, the first S. Sudanese female pilot in Australia

Authors: Garang Abraham | | Published: Thursday, April 11, 2019

Amer Mangar Majak, the first SSD female pilot in Australia during an interview with Eye Radio/@Garang Malak

Amer Mangar Majak is a 26-year-old mother of three, born in Rumbek – Western Lakes state, was raised in a family made up of nine siblings who all later traveled to Melbourne – Australia as refugees in 2003.

While in Australia, Ms. Amer joined Soar Aviation School in 2016 where she began her piloting career and graduated later in 2018 with a Private Pilot License or PPL in piloting.

Amer who was the only black student at Soar Aviation School told Eye Radio that she faced a lot of challenges along her career journey especially stereotypes, – a barrier she managed to break through.

“In days when boarding a bus, they would ask me what are you doing here? The first question asked, even by the driver, was like are you from a rich family and what is a black woman doing here?” Amer reminisced.

She said this often put her off and even made her feel like she did not really choose the right career.

“Even the teachers or students would ask me whether I am sure of what I am doing or actually chose the right career? They would be like; is this course what you want to do, because we don’t see black women or men here in Australia who are pilots,”

Amer Mangar said she often ignored the kinds of stereotypes made against her and disregarded them as naivety.

“Ignorance is very important sometimes. Just assumed to yourself that you don’t hear them and you focus. So what I would hear and say okay, don’t worry about what am doing, but focus on what you are doing because we are all here for the same reasons.”

The young pilot said wanting to become a role model who would advocate for the rights of women in South Sudan inspired her to become a pilot.

“When I came to South Sudan in 2015. I look at the conditions we face as women in South Sudan, and with the opportunities for us in the diaspora, I took that as an advantage to utilizing them with aim of really coming back home and giving something to my country as a female. Because becoming a pilot is not just being a pilot and being in the air, [but]it’s about being a figure and a role model to young women to know their work and to also strive for bigger careers and becoming women who truly inspire,” said Amer.

She describes the piloting profession as a woman’s comfortable occupation, adding that it makes a woman gets various dimensional experiences.

“What is very interesting is that most people believe that its fearful and that it’s a very big role for a woman to handle but in actual sense, it’s a world were a woman is very comfortable. The good thing about it you get experiences of different countries,” she narrates.

She states that the course is interesting because it allows a person to deal with very complicated training and learning.

“It’s about learning theories and the later you get to the air…and you enjoy your flight.”

Her Family Support:

Pilot Amer revealed that she wouldn’t have achieved her dream if it wasn’t for her family and especially her resilient mother who raised all her 9 siblings – a mother she describes as her role model.

“My husband, my father, my mam, my brothers, my sisters and my father in law. I have a very supportive network of family members who are very sharing always, giving the good lights that continue to striving and they do help me sometimes finally,” She revealed.

Ms. Amer who was under Australian government sponsorship also singled out her family support, adding that the course cost her more than 50, 000 USD per year where her family also contributed.

However, Amer believes that South Sudanese women can make it to higher and greatest levels far ahead than hers.

“They can even be greater more than me sincere speaking because South Sudanese women I must say are the strongest women in the whole world because the hard works that the women face in their daily lives in South Sudan, where no woman can ever manage them but they are managing and are doing greater.”

A selfie of Amer flying a plane recently.

Amer’s Piloting Journey

Amer’s first flight was in 2017. The three-hour flight from Melbourne to South Australia coincided with her friend’s birthday.

But she said that was an opener to her other dream of becoming a pilot for an air force in South Sudan.

“Yes, I have done one, but then after I get my ATPL, I want to join the air force which is more intense training, but it’s kinder what I really want to do.”

Amer joins Captain Aluel James Bol who graduated in 2011 and emerged the first South Sudanese female pilot in then Sudan and now works with the Ethiopian Air and Fly Dubai.

Other female pilot colleagues are Amel Ajongo Mawut and Grace Toby Martirio who all graduated from different aviation schools in Kenya.

According to the Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide, it said in the 1960s, only one in 21 women held an “other-than-student” pilot certificate and occupation as a commercial pilot was virtually unheard of.

Yet within a decade, laws were enacted, and social mores shifted albeit very, very slowly. Change, though incremental was there.

Amer’s vision is to establish an aviation school in South Sudan after completing her Airline Transport Pilot License.

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