The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has made history with the decoration of the first female fighter pilot, Flying Officer Kafayat Sanni, and first female combat helicopter pilot, Flying Officer Tolulope Arotile, with their pilot wings.
The Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF, Air Commidore Ibikunle Daramooa noted that the 2 female NAF pilots were decorated alongside 11 other young officers after successful completion of their flying training courses.
Daramila said with the ceremony, NAF has successfully winged over 100 pilots in the last 4 years, who are now adding impetus to the fight against insurgency and other internal security operations in the country.
He said during the ceremony, the NAF also decorated the first female Air Warrant Officer (AWO) in the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Grace Garba, with her new rank. AWO Garba was promoted to the highest rank in the Non-Commissioned Officers’ cadre for her exceptional hard work and contributions to the Service over the years.
Speaking at the event, the Special Guest of Honor (SGOH), the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs Dame Pauline Tallen, noted that the winging of the first ever female fighter pilot and first female combat helicopter pilot produced by the NAF, is a commendable feat.
She said: “The event attests to the laudable achievements and transformation taking place in the NAF and indeed portrays the Service in good light.”
She affirmed that “the NAF is a gender friendly institution which has continually strived to provide equal opportunity for both male and female personnel, adding that this would, no doubt, encourage all personnel to strive to achieve excellence in their career.“
She remarked that it was obvious that the Chief of Air Staff has provided the right leadership and guidance to ensure the realization of the primary key driver of his Vision, which is hinged on human capacity development.
She said: “they are indeed proud of the milestones attained by the NAF and the achievements of the Chief of the Air Staff.“
According to her, the winging of the pilots is a demonstration of the preparedness of the NAF towards meeting Nigeria’s national security needs.
While commending the newly winged pilots, the Minister emphasized the need for them to continue to work hard in order to add value to the operations of the NAF.
She further thanked President Muhammadu Buhari, who in spite of competing economic needs in the Country, continues to support and give special attention to the operational requirements of the Armed Forces.
Earlier in his remarks, the CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, noted that the ceremony indeed marked another milestone in the history of the NAF and expressed his delight over the achievement.
He added that he was particularly happy because 2 of the 13 pilots winged were female Regular Combatant officers. According to him, the 2 female pilots were celebrated, not only because they are female officers, but also outstanding aviators.
He revealed that the first female fighter pilot was trained in the United States, following an excellent performance during her initial flying training course at 401 Flying Training School Kaduna, while the second graduated from Starlite International Academy.