The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Tuesday, made history when it winged the first female Fighter, Helicopter pilot as well as a female Air Warrant Officer.
The feat, is another milestone achievement by female officers in the NAF, in an area that had hitherto been male dominated. The two females are part of 13 NAF pilots who recently completed their flying training abroad and qualified for the award of the NAF prestigious Wing.
Speaking at the winging ceremony in Abuja, the Guest of Honour and Minister for Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, said the event attests to the laudable achievements and transformation taking place in the Nigerian Air Force, and also portrays the NAF positively, as an equal opportunity establishment that encourages all its personnel to achieve excellence in their career.
According to her, “We are indeed proud of the milestones reached by the NAF and the achievements of the Chief of the Air Staff. I am aware that with this winging ceremony, the Nigerian Air Force would have winged a total of over 110 pilots since the inception of his administration” .
She expressed conviction that the pilots being winged 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.
Dame Tallen, enjoined Nigerians to remain patriotic and support the current administration in efforts being made at bequeathing a safe and secure Nigeria to the children.
In his remarks, the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said that while one of the 2 pilots is the first female fighter pilot in the 55 years history of the NAF, the second one is the first female combat helicopter pilot in the history of the Service.
“The first female fighter pilot trained at the United States Air Force following an excellent performance during her initial flying training course at 401 Flying Training School in Kaduna, while the second graduated from Starlite International Training Academy. They both performed excellently well during their training,” he said.
He further noted that NAF spares nothing at developing its human resource capital, adding that the desire for excellence is even more compelling in the face of current and perceived future national security challenges.
“Accordingly, NAF has continued to invest in human capacity building, since the Service is a veritable instrument for maintenance of national security. The NAF will continue to discharge her constitutional responsibility of protecting Nigeria’s sovereignty and integrity by air”, he remarked.
He added further stated that the NAF has trained a total of 67 Instructor pilots since 2015. He congratulated the young pilots and their family members and implored them to be prepared for the arduous task ahead, as they fit into the operational flying environment.
“Furthermore, with the winging of these pilots today, the NAF would have winged a total of 101 pilots within the same period. Currently, we have 61 pilots undergoing ab-initio/basic flying training, while 50 are undergoing various forms of advanced flying training courses both locally and abroad.
“I must add that the mission of a fruitful flying career has just begun and as such you must stay inspired. You must open your minds to learn and be prepared to be guided by your senior colleagues in the field”.
Another groundbreaking feat was witnessing in the Nigerian Air Force, as the first female Air Warrant Officer was decorated during the event.
“She has braced all odds and established herself as more than worthy of the promotion to the enviable rank of Air Warrant Officer”, the CAS stated.