Capt. Niloofar Rahmani, the first female fixed-wing pilot in the Afghan Air Force, was given the chance of a lifetime last week when she flew with the Blue Angels at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, California. She accompanied Blue Angel #7, Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss in the back seat of a Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet.
Blue Angels Commanding Officer and Flight Leader Capt. Tom Frosch shared with News Channel 3 the benefits of having Rahmani fly with the Blue Angels.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to share the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps with a representative of another nation,” said Frosch. “It also provided the opportunity for our squadron to ask questions and learn more about Afghanistan’s Air Force.”
Rahmani was recruited to join the Afghan Air Force in when she was 18 back in 2010 and completed her first solo flight and graduated from flight school just two years later.
“When I heard I was going to fly with the Blue Angels, I was so excited,” said Rahmani. “That was the first time that I felt [G-forces] while flying.”
She also qualified to fly the military cargo aircraft C-208 when she attended advanced flight school and in the future hopes to fly the C-130. Despite all of her success, Rahmani faced many dangerous obstacles in her way, including death threats from the Taliban.
“It was not easy finishing flight school, it was very hard, but someone had to accept the risk so that other women can do what they dream,” said Rahmani.
Rahmani was recently honored by First Lady Michelle Obama for her display of courage, commitment and for becoming a figure of empowerment for women in Afghanistan.
“You can’t just see yourself as a woman, but as a human and believe in yourself,” said Rahmani.
Rahmani, along with nine other women, were awarded the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award for 2015.