SAWIA & WAI-SFBA Meet Again in the Bay Area!

Laura Ilunga

A couple of weeks ago we had the fortunate chance to host a member from S.A.W.I.A. (Southern African Women in Aviation and Aerospace Industry), Laura Ilunga.  Our Co-President, Kelly, and Director, Sandra, first welcomed Laura in Las Vegas, Nevada.  After enjoying the sites, they brought her back to the Bay Area to meet the rest of the chapter. We all had a chance to speak with Laura about her experiences as a helicopter pilot with the South African Air Force.

Laura is a remarkable individual and incredibly humble.  Kelly described her as “an amazing, selfless woman who also happens to fly.  Her personality shines and her aviation background makes her sparkle.” Sandra further remarked that Laura’s visit helped her to better understand the importance of face-to face relationships.  Quoting from Forbes magazine, ” I’m convinced meeting face to face does three things better than virtual meetings.  It captures trust, it inspires positive emotions, and it builds relationships.  Personally, I hope the massive growth of cell phones, texting, email and teleconferencing doesn’t prompt us to forget these basic facts of human life” (“Why We Need to Meet in Person,” Forbes, Feb. 2011).   Our chapters met through Facebook, but the personal interaction between the members of the groups has strengthened our bond.  We will rely on virtual communication to stay connected with our sisters overseas, we will never turn down the chance to visit with them.  Thank you Laura for coming to see us!

The WAI SFBA Chapter Meets Laura Over Appetizers in Palo Alto

A note from Laura about her visit:

To the Ladies of WAI-SFBA,

I had a super time in the bay area. I mean Sandra’s family just welcomed me in & Kelly, Kim and Pam took time off work to spend some time together.  Kelly and Sandra flew out to Vegas to show me something different; some good friendships continue to grow.
Meeting the group members was so much fun and a really great opportunity and I’m just glad that all those women and the couple men came out to get together as aviators. That was a really great gathering. The skydiving was also unforgettable. An experience of a lifetime which I must definitely do again.


Some highlights from her trip:


Sky diving with a few of our members: Laura, Kelly, & Kimberly

Sandra, Laura, & Kelly in Las Vegas

Thanks to Facebook for connecting our chapters!







Check out SAWIA’s Facebook page and website:



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