Niloofar Rahmani First Female Pilot in Afghanistan
KABUL: (Middle East Press) Niloofar Rahmani is the first female pilot in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 – and serves as a role model for other young Afghan women, encouraging them to join the Afghan Air Force (AAF).
Completing her training in Kabul, Rahmani – who won the 2015 International Woman of Courage Award from U.S. State Department – has served with the Afghan military for four years.
Able to fly fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, Captain Rahmani, 23, is the only Afghan woman who plays a major role in transporting soldiers from the battle ground.
“I can’t wait to fly despite risks and threats,” she told TOLOnews correspondent who flew with her to eastern Jalalabad. “But my passion to fly helps me defy all the threats.”
She has participated in 360 operations, flying for more than 600 hours during her career.
Rahmani explained that she decided to join the Air Force in order to turn her father’s dreams into reality.
She told TOLOnews during a day-long trip and interview that she had also completed a two-year training program with NATO.
However, the day of the interview, bad weather resulted in her having to cancel a planned trip to Badakhshan where she was to help soldiers fighting insurgents in the northeastern province.
“Today, I planned to fly to Badakhshan and bring back the bodies of our dead soldiers to Kabul,” she said.
Meanwhile, her colleagues and friends are extremely proud of her, saying that Rahmani was performing her duties under tough circumstances.
“She is a very brave and skilled pilot,” an AAF pilot Aimal Khair Khowa said. “She has brought honor to Afghanistan.”
“Niloofar is the first female pilot to transport the bodies of dead soldiers,” said Azizullah Pamiri, another member of AAF.
Meanwhile, the commander of fixed-wing aircrafts, Aimal stressed that Niloofar would start training new pilots in the future.
“Niloofar is equal to her male counterparts,” Aimal said. “We are considering her for the position of an instructor for new pilots in future.”
However, when she started flying, many thought she was a foreigner.
“When I flew the aircraft to Herat province, many people were whispering with each other that this girl is a foreigner and can’t speak in local languages. But when I went to them and spoke to them, they couldn’t believe an Afghan girl is so talented,” Rahmani said.
She said her dream was to see Afghan women taking a lead in the country.
“I want all women to believe in themselves and never feel that they are weak.”
She expressed that her commitment to serving in Afghan military was endless – defying threats she and her family received during her service.
Rahmani said she was committed to her country, religion and duty, and promised to conduct her duties in line with Islamic principles.