Afghan Air Force Graduates Pilots

Three Afghan air force pilot trainees at Shindand Air Base last week became the first fixed-wing students to earn their wings in Afghanistan in some 30 years, announced their US Air Force advisors. These Afghans were also the first pilots to complete their entire fixed-wing training program entirely in Afghanistan—as opposed to instruction in the United States—since the beginning of NATO’s air training mission in Afghanistan in 2007, states the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing’s Oct. 19 release. “Now I am a pilot. I have a job to do to serve my country. That’s all I wanted,” said 1st Lt. Khan Agha Ghaznavi, one of the three Afghan airmen who received their wings on Oct. 15 during a graduation ceremony at Shindand. The three airmen will next undergo advanced qualification training to become operational Cessna 208 copilots, according to the release. The trio began initial flight screening in December 2011, and worked through their course of study, including more than 250 hours in the simulator and the Cessna 182 and C-208 aircraft. (Shindand report by Capt. Agneta Murnan)