NAF wings first female fighter pilot, 12 others

By Okodili Ndidi, Abuja

The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) on Tuesday winged the first female fighter pilot, Flying Officer Kafayat Sanni and twelve others in a colourful ceremony at the NAF Headquarters in Abuja.

Also decorated at the event was the first female Air Warrant Officer (AWO), Grace Garuba.

The winging serves as the formal induction of the officers as Pilots into the Nigerian Air Force.

The NAF Chief of Training and Operations, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao said: “These new pilots would no doubt boost the pilot manning needs of the Service as their deployment to the various NAF platforms would enhance the fulfillment of the constitutional roles of the Nigerian Air Force especially in the ongoing operations in the North East and North West”.

He continued: “The 13 pilots to be winged today comprise 12 helicopter and one fixed wing Pilots. The first ever female fighter Pilot in the Nigerian Air Force was trained at the United States Air Force under the prestigious Aviation Leadership Programme from 31 Jan 18 to 16 Aug 19.

“Similarly, the officers that attended Westline Aviation Limited, South Africa commenced their flying training on 20 Aug 18 and completed the course on 10 Sep 19, while, flying training for the Nigerian Air Force Student Pilots at Starlite International Training Academy in South Africa was conducted from 9 Aug 18 to 12 Oct 19.

“Notwithstanding this achievement, the Nigerian Air Force will continue to collaborate with allied countries to train personnel to meet her operational needs.

“As we speak, there are 12 student pilots undergoing training in the United States of America comprising; two at the United States Air Force for the Undergraduate Pilot Training and 10 student pilots at Civic Helicopters undergoing Basic Helicopter training while two student pilots are currently undergoing basic flying training at the Indian Air Force.

“Also, four student pilots are being processed for Combat helicopter pilots training at the United States Army Aviation, Fort Rucker.

“Furthermore, 10 student pilots have been processed for Military-Style Rotary Wing Pilot Training at Cobham Aviation Services in the United Kingdom. Most of the trainings are tailored towards ensuring that the pilots on graduation are mission ready”.

He disclosed that a total number of 22,841 personnel have been trained in different specialties home and abroad in the last four years.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, described the two female pilots Flying Officers Kafayat Sanni and Tolulope Arotile as outstanding aviators.

Read Also: Air Force to deploy technology for Nigeria’s security, says NAF chief

He said the NAF was winging the first female fighter pilot since its formation 55 years ago.

According to him: “It is common knowledge that of all resources available to a leader or manager, the human resource is the most important.

“This is because the human resource drives all other resources pursuant to the attainment of organisational objectives. It is predicated on this consideration that the NAF spares nothing at developing its human resource capital.

“I am convinced that the pilots being winged today will put in their best and contribute their quota towards consolidating the success attained in eliminating current security challenges in the North East and North West as well as communal clashes, kidnapping and armed banditry”.