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Open Skies

My Life as Afghanistan's First Female Pilot

BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY

320 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, EPUB, PDF, Mobipocket

Cloth, $28.99 (US $28.99) (CA $38.99)

Publication Date: July 2021

ISBN 9781641603348

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Jul 2021)

eBook

eBook Editions Available

Will it work on my eReader?
Not Yet Published. Estimated release date: July 2021
 

Overview

The true story of Niloofar Rahmani and her determination to become Afghanistan's first female air force fighter pilot

Niloofar Rahmani was born in 1991 in Kabul, Afghanistan, just a few years after the Soviets left. During the rise of the Taliban, her father took his young family to Pakistan, where they lived for nine years as refugees. Then, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the international coalition's invasion, the Rahmani family returned to their home in Kabul. In 2010, for the first time since the Soviets, Afghanistan allowed women to join the military, and Niloofar entered Afghanistan's military academy. However, the professed openness of the new Afghan military could not surmount centuries of chauvinism. Niloofar had to break through social barriers to demonstrate confidence, leadership, and decisiveness—essential qualities for a combat pilot. Against the odds, Niloofar performed the first solo flight of her class—ahead of all her male classmates—and in 2013 became Afghanistan's first female fixed-wing air force pilot. Yet some Afghan soldiers refused to fly with her, while others disparaged and harassed her. In 2014 the Taliban threatened Niloofar, her father lost his job, and extended family members disavowed them. The US State Department honored Niloofar with the International Women of Courage Award and sent her to the United States to meet Michelle Obama and fly with the US Navy's Blue Angels. But when she returned to Kabul, the danger to her and her family had increased significantly, forcing them to move every few months. In 2015 the US military brought Niloofar back to the US to learn to fly C-130s, but before graduation she learned she could go home, and requested political asylum. She was granted US asylum in 2018, and yet she and her family are still in hiding in America. 

Author Biography

Niloofar Rahmani became the first female fixed-wing pilot for the Afghan Air Force in 2012. She speaks three languages and has been interviewed for the Wall Street Journal, Japan Times, and the Independent as well as CNN and PBS. In 2015 the US State Department presented Rahmani with the International Women of Courage Award. She lives in the southeastern United States. R. D. Sikes is a decorated US Marine veteran and freelance writer.