Flight Lieutenant Annita Mapiye

Flight Lieutenant Annita Mapiye was the first female combat helicopter pilot at the Airforce of Zimbabwe. She died on 23 April 2021 in a helicopter crash in Arcturus.


Mapiye came from a family that was dominated by medical practitioners.[1]


A friend said Mapiye had just given birth before she died in April 2021.[2]


Mapiye joined the Airforce in 2012 at the age of 21 after her father insisted she must abandon her dream of being a medical practitioner. Annita Mapiye came 5th on our Basic Military Training out of 46 trainees. She became the first female helicopter combatant pilot aged 28. In 2015, Mapiye began the basic training for pilots, which is called the Genet SF260 Fixed Wing, which is just a normal plane. Recounting her experience then Mapiye said:

“The very first day to fly was a nightmare. I screamed and my instructor was annoyed. He took me outside and we talked. On that day I could not get back to the plane and I went home scared.”

After completion of the basic training, Mapiya enlisted for combat helicopter training. Mapiye's colleagues, including her superiors, tried to talk her out of her decision. She told The Herald that her colleagues' persuasion only served as a catalyst that stimulated her ambition and she was eventually selected.[1]

Mapiye accomplished her dream and became a VIP pilot and the first female pilot to fly President Emmerson Mnangagwa.[2]


Annita Mapiye died on 23 April 2021. Mapiye was killed together with another pilot, a wing commander, and a technician when an Airforce of Zimbabwe Bell 412 crashed into a house in the Hukuru neighbourhood in Arcturus. Airforce of Zimbabwe commander Air Marshal Elson Moyo issued a statement offering his condolences but did not name the crash victims. However, friends of Mapiye paid tribute to her on social media.[2]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Victor Maphosa, Sky is no limit, The Herald, Published: March 16, 2021, Retrieved: April 23, 2021
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Zimbabwe’s first female helicopter fighter pilot Annita Mapiye dies in crash, ZimLive, Published: April 23, 2021, Retrieved: April 23, 2021