Home African CEOs Profiles How Susan Mashibe’s Childhood Dream Sparked a Revolution in Africa’s Aviation Industry
Profiles - December 12, 2020

How Susan Mashibe’s Childhood Dream Sparked a Revolution in Africa’s Aviation Industry

Susan Mashibe is the founder and CEO of VIA Aviation, an international aircraft services firm, and the first of its kind to operate in Tanzania. Susan is also the first woman in Tanzania to become both a commercial pilot certified by the FAA and an engineering qualification for aircraft maintenance.

At the tender age of 19, this ardent aviator left Tanzania for the United States in order to gain the required training to fly jetliners, returning home later to help reshape African private air travel.

VIA aviation currently provides diplomatic and private jets logistic support to heads of state, monarchs, Fortune 500 executives, actors and the military. The aviation firm is the first to provide this kind of service in Tanzania and the whole of East Africa.

She has been recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, she spoke at the Bush Institute’s African First Ladies Summit in Dar es Salaam, she has been selected as an Archbishop Tutu Fellow, she’s received the  Tanzania Women of Achievement Award, she’s one of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Mentee.


Where it all started

As a child Susan Mashibe had a moment of epiphany, at the age of four Susan’s parents were about to travel and she accompanied them to the airport with her grandmother. Holding her grandmother’s hand, she watched as the plane took off. In that moment, she got this feeling that her parents would not leave her behind if she could fly the plane herself.

After completing her primary and secondary education in Tanzania, she moved to the Western Michigan University where she trained as a pilot at the age 19. She joined an aircraft repair course at Southwestern Michigan College in 1996, graduating as an FAA-certified airframe and powerplant technician. In 2001, she completed commercial pilot training and obtained her pilot license making her the first FAA-certified female pilot and mechanic in Tanzania.


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