News - Afghanistan
Niloofar Rahmani is the first female pilot in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001- serving 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 been serving for four years in the Afghan military.
Able to flying fixed-wing aircrafts and helicopters, Captain Rahmani, 23, is the only Afghan woman playing 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 Air Force 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.
Bad weather canceled her plan to fly to Badakhshan where she intended to assist the soldiers in fighting insurgents in the northeastern province.
"Today, I planned to fly to Badakhshan and transfer our slain soldiers to Kabul."
Her colleagues and friends are proud of her, saying that Rahmani was performing her duty under tough circumstances.
"She is a very brave and skilled pilot," another AAF pilot Aimal Khair Khowa praised. "She has brought honor to Afghanistan."
"Female pilots are not allowed to transport soldiers killed and injured in the battle but Niloofar is the first female pilot to do that," said Azizullah Pamiri, another member of AAF.
Meanwhile, the commander of fixed-wing aircrafts, Aimal stressed that Niloofar would start training new pilots in near future.
"Niloofar has no insufficiency as compared to her male counterparts," Aimal said. "We are considering her as an instructor for new pilots in near future."
However, when she formally began flights, many in the aircraft thought she was a foreigner – as there was no woman pilot before in Afghanistan's history.
"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 that much talented," Rahmani said.
She reiterated that her dream was to see Afghan women taking lead in the country.
"I want all women to believe upon 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 concluded with a determination to her country, religion and duty, and promised to conduct her duty in line with the Islamic principles.
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