The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has graduated another 12 pilots, including a female combat helicopter pilot.
The newly minted pilots received their wings on 5 May during a ceremony at NAF Headquarters in Abuja. Over the last four and a half years, the Nigerian Air Force has winged 114 pilots, including five women, and they are carrying out various missions in different theatres of operation across the country.
According to the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, the 12 new pilots had their flying training both in Nigeria and abroad, and have completed the nine month comprehensive flying training programme. “I am happy that we have among the 12 the second ever female helicopter pilot”, he added. This is Flying Officer Chinelo Nwokoye.
The NAF on 15 October 2019 made history by decorating its first female fighter pilot, Flying Officer Kafayat Sani, and first female combat helicopter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, with their wings in Abuja.
In addition to the 114 new pilots minted since July 2015, the NAF has 26 student pilots currently undergoing or scheduled to begin basic flying training abroad. Out of these 26 student pilots, two are female officers. “Upon completion of their training, one would become the second ever female fixed-wing fighter pilot in the NAF, while the other would graduate as the first ever female Qualified Flight Instructor (QFI) in the 56 years history of the Service,” Abubakar said. “We have equally increased capacity for in-country flying training. At the moment, there are also 39 student pilots undergoing various stages of training in NAF flying schools”, he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief of Training and Operations (CTOP), Air Vice Marshal James Gwani, said the winging of the 12 new pilots was another milestone achievement by the current NAF administration. This, he said, would further boost the aircrew disposition of the service and contribute to fulfilling the constitutional roles of the NAF especially in the series of ongoing air operations across the country.