Nigeria Air Force First Female Fighter Pilots

Nigeria Air Force First Female Fighter Pilots

In JANUARY 2018 the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Winged two female combat pilots among 11 others during a ceremony at the NAF Headquarters, Abuja.

Flying Officer Oluwabunmi Ijehu and Flying Officer Genevieve Nwaogwuwu became the first two female Regular Combatants to be Winged by the Nigerian Air Force.

They are the first since Nigeria’s independence in 1960. Two pilots have made history in Nigeria after becoming the first female fighter pilots in the Nigerian Air Force.

The Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Saqidue Abubakar said apart from the 11 pilots being Winged, “We are expecting additional 10 pilots from International Aviation College in Illorin.”

“It is the first time in the history of the NAF that female Regular Combatant officers would be decorated with wings as qualified pilots,” CAS said.

“By the end of February therefore, the NAF would have successfully winged 72 pilots. Furthermore, there are an additional 74 pilots that are training to qualify for awards of NAF wings. Out of this number, 64 are training in Nigeria while the remaining 10 are training outside Nigeria,” the CAS said.

All 11 combatant pilots completed a one-year training programme at Westline Aviation in South Africa.

First Nigerian female fighter pilot graduates from ALP


First Lt. Sanni Kafayat, a student pilot from Nigeria, completed pilot training here July 25.

Kafayat has been flying the T-6 Texan II and wants to fly fighter aircraft when she returns to Nigeria. She was chosen by her officials to train in the U.S. and she is one of five women pilots in Nigeria, and the only fighter pilot among them.

“Nigeria only has a few selected students who come to the U.S. each year,” Kafayat, said. “I was extremely excited when I heard that I was chosen. This is a very rare opportunity that I did not want to miss.”

Nigeria Air Force First Female Fighter Pilots
First Lt. Kafayat Sanni stands in front of a T-6 Texan II on Columbus Air Force Base. (Courtesy photo)

She said during her time at Columbus AFB, Martin was a huge help. When Kafayat first arrived, Martin, introduced her to the instructor pilots and flight commander as well as bridging communication gaps.

Kafayat said that before training she thought that one of the biggest hurdles would be the physical aspect of training. She said that the training is actually more challenging mentally.

One of her biggest obstacles was the fear of failing which weighed her down for a long period of time, according to Kafayat. She was homesick but then realized how many people were there to help her. Kafayat said Martin and her flight commander helped push her along the way.

Nigeria Air Force First Female Fighter Pilots
Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, gives an award to 1st Lt. Sanni Kafayat, 14th Student Squadron student pilot, at the Special Undergraduate Pilot Training Class’s 19-21/22 graduation ceremony Aug. 16, 2019, at Columbus Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

Ultimately, Kafayat said she learned what she came here to do, which is to become a pilot, but she also learned how to deal with ups and downs, and matured as a person.

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