First female Afghan pilot requests asylum in US after completing C-130 flight training

Afghan Air Force's first woman fixed-wing pilot, Capt. Niloofar Rahmani, visited the Blue Angels at Naval Air Facility El Centro, March 11, 2015. During the visit, Rahmani toured the hangar, C-130 Hercules and flew in an orientation flight in the backseat of a Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet. (U.S. Navy)

Afghan Air Force (AAF) female pilot Niloofar Rahmani who got her training in the US has decided to seek asylum in the US and rejected to come back to Afghanistan citing security issues, a media report said. The 25-year-old Afghan air force pilot hopes to start a new life in the U.S. where she has applied for asylum, saying her life would be in danger if she returns home.

Capt. Rahmani went to the U.S. in the summer of 2015 to train on C-130 transport planes with the U.S. Air Force.   The course ended on Thursday and she was due to go back to Afghanistan on Saturday but she won’t be going.

“I would love to fly for my country—that is what I always wanted to do,” Capt. Rahmani said from Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, where she completed the flight training.

“But I’m scared for my life,” she said.

Capt. Rahmani is the highest-profile member of Afghanistan’s armed forces seeking asylum in the U.S. or neighboring Canada. The head of Afghanistan’s air force, Maj. Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak, recently warned pilots training in the U.S. against applying for asylum.

Female pilots with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing pose for a photo with Afghan Capt. Niloofar Rahmani, the first female fixed-wing pilot in the Afghan Air Force, during a visit to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 9, 2015. (Photo by Marine Sgt. Melissa Lee)
Female pilots with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing pose for a photo with Afghan Capt. Niloofar Rahmani, the first female fixed-wing pilot in the Afghan Air Force, during a visit to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., March 9, 2015. (Photo by Marine Sgt. Melissa Lee)

He said if they attempted to seek asylum they would be deported to Afghanistan and arrested upon arrival.

Asked Friday to comment about Capt. Rahmani’s decision to seek asylum, Lt. Jalaluddin Ibrahimkhel, a spokesman for the Afghan air force, only said pilots must return home after completing their training abroad.

Niloofar Rahmani was just 18 when she became the first female fixed-wing pilot in Afghanistan with the Afghan Air Force.

The 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base is the nation’s tactical airlift “Center of Excellence” and trains C-130 aircrew members from the Department of Defense, Coast Guard, and 47 partner nations.  The wing trains more than 1,200 students annually, including more than 150 international students in DoD’s largest international flying training program.

 

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