Major Wendy Badenhorst: The air force pilot
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
Major Wendy Badenhorst @wendybadenhorst is a member of the Silver Falcons @silverfalconswhich is the formation aerobatic display team of the South African Air Force (SAAF). They operate aircraft in a 5-ship display. Wendy originally wanted to be a vet but at 16 years old saw the Silver Falcons perform to Chariots of Fire at a military air show and was completely blown away - she recalls that at that very moment she knew she wanted to be a pilot and part of the team. Her parents were initially not keen on their daughter joining the military but she convinced them otherwise and joined straight after school and trained for four years to be a military pilot. Following this, she spent five years as a helicopter pilot in Hoedspruit, later moving to the military academy in Saldanha where she did her bachelors degree in military science, graduating at the top of her class. She then trained as an airforce flying instructor and only after that, was she in a position to apply for the Silver Falcons, making it into the team in April 2016. The whole journey took 10 years! To date, of the 106 Falcons listed, there have only been two women. Wendy loves that at air shows, parents bring their little girls after the show to point her out and prove to them that there is a female pilot and that they can be her too!
In 2010, Wendy had a very bad horse riding accident that resulted in her breaking her pelvis and being hospitalised for two months. She had to learn how to walk and run again - it took a full 5 months from the day of the accident to the day she was able to fly once again. Wendy does not ride horses anymore but says she is in better shape than she was before the accident - she is now a fitness fanatic and doesn’t take the ability to walk (and fly!) for granted.
We are inspired by Wendy’s passion for flying and her commitment to the daunting process of becoming a Silver Falcon - a decade is a long time to sacrifice for a shot at one of only five possible positions in the country!
Featured artist: Ilse Lewis @ilse_xx