Flying with Flying Colors

9 months ago / by Swarnendu Biswas
Niloofar Rahmani
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons

Niloofar Rahmani has the coveted and prestigious distinction of being the first female fixed-wing Air Force aviator of Afghanistan, and the first female pilot in the Afghan Air Force since Taliban got out of power in 2001(the militant Islamist group again unfortunately regained power in the war-ravaged state in 2021). In 2015, she won the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award. Her triumph amidst death threats on her and her family speaks volumes about her resilience of spirit.

Passion to Fly

Niloofar Rahmani was born on 27th September 1992, in the Logar province of Afghanistan.   While discussing about Niloofar Rahmani one can easily come to know that since her childhood, Niloofar, who is of Tajik descent, nurtured the dream of becoming a pilot and she invested close to a year in studying English so as to attend a flight school. Her abiding passion to become a pilot perhaps got a fillip when an 18-year-old Niloofar came to know about the recruitment of young women in the Afghan Air Force, which also included opportunity for pilot training. 

Any biography of Niloofar Rahmani must mention that in 2010, she enlisted in the Afghan Air Force Officer Training Program, in which she was the only female candidate, and two years later she emerged as a Second Lieutenant in July 2012.   The Nabizada sisters – two female helicopter pilots during the Soviet era – and her father were her inspiration.

In Cessna 182, a four-seat, single-engine light airplane, she did her first solo flight. But aviator Niloofar Rahmani was wanting to fly larger aircraft and this urge took her to an advanced flight school. Aviator Niloofar Rahmani graduated from advanced flight training and soon she was seen soon flying the C-208 military cargo aircraft. She was also engaged in flying wounded soldiers to hospital.

Indomitable Spirit

When her achievements became well-known, death threats to aviator Niloofar Rahmani  and her family by Taliban and even by members of her extended family followed. As a result of such brutal threats, she and her family was forced to relocate several times.

But despite facing constant danger, Niloofar remained resolute in her aim to fly a larger C-130 and become a flight instructor. In 2015, she began training on C-130 planes with the US Air Force and after completion of the program in the end of the next year she applied for asylum in the US. She was granted asylum in the US, but not before April 2018.

Writing Her Success Story

Presently Niloofar lives in Florida with her sister, who is endeavouring to get asylum too. Niloofar is now a translator in PersianDari and English languages.

However, that doesn’t mean her lofty dreams have ebbed. In the last year, her book titled ‘Open Skies: My Life as Afghanistan’s First Female Pilot’ came out. In this memoir she talks about her journey to become Afghanistan’s first female pilot.

Niloofar, who can be easily described as a champion of invincible women power, has hopes of becoming a military pilot for the US Air Force.  For her sky is not big enough…


When did Niloofar Rahmani start her career?

She began her flying career in 2012 when she became Second Lieutenant in Afghan Air Force.

Who is Nillofar Rahami’s husband?

According to the latest available information in public domain, she is presently single.

What is the educational qualification of Niloofar Rahmani?

She graduated fromAfghan Air Force Officer Training Program as a Second Lieutenant. She is a trained military pilot.