Nigerian Air Force Gets its First Female Fighter Pilot After 55 Years

Kafayat Sanni emerged as the overall best pilot at the Nigerian Air Force’s 401 training school in 2017. She then moved to the United States for further training at the US Aviation Leadership program. Sanni, later on, returned to Nigeria upon completion. There, she and 12 other new fighter pilots received honors. Sanni, therefore, became the first female fighter pilot of the Nigerian Air Force after 55 years of its operation. It was yet another first from Sanni’s South African-trained colleague, Tolulope Arotile, who became the Air Force’s first female combat helicopter pilot.

Sanni expressed her delight in becoming the first female fighter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force.

It is a privilege for me to be winged as the first female fighter pilot in the Nigerian Air Force.

Sanni and a male colleague are hoping to get deployment to North-East Nigeria to join the Boko Haram counter-insurgency operation and other internal security operations in the country.

She said she is ready to join her male counterparts in the field.

There are other pilots there on the fronts and they are playing their part. They have been doing their best. So, I am also just going to join my male counterparts in the insurgency fight and every other thing that has been going on in our country. So, I am just going to get there and play my part.

She also said that being in the field was her choice.

It was also my choice. It was what I wanted to do. And I felt that everyone is not supposed to fold their arms and watch what is happening in our country.

Everyone could always play their part. So, I did not think there was any reason for me to think that it is not possible for me to actually fly the jet because there was no female that ever flew the jet. I believe I could achieve it and I did.

Sanni encourages other girls to follow in her path and that they should grab such opportunities as they come by.

They should always strive to be the best and put in their efforts. They should never look at anything that seems to want to overpower or overshadow them. For me, you can always attempt things and if they do not work out well; fine. But at every point in time, you just need to put in your best.

Colombus AFB international military student officer, Captain Christy Martin, expressed her joy in Sanni’s accomplishment.

I think she is going to perform that title well. Sanni has a very bubbly personality and was very positive throughout the whole entire training.

Pilot training is a very stressful, strenuous course, but she has always stayed positive. I think she is very determined and very excited to go back and fly fighters in her country as well.

Nigerian Air Force also had its first female Air Warrant Officer, Grace Garba, barely a month before Sanni’s achievement. At the age of 20, Garba had already joined the Nigerian Air Force as a member of the Basic Military Training Course (BMTC).

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