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Counter-Insurgency: Female officer emerges overall best in new set of NAF pilots

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•NAF trained 114 students, winged 92 new pilots in four years

Senator Iroegbu 

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in furtherance of its sustained efforts to boost the capacity of its personnel for enhanced professional performance in combating insurgency and other forms of criminality in the country, has graduated another batch of 26 Ab-initio student pilots, including four female officers.

NAF is actively involved in the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North East as well as in various internal security operations across the country.

Among these female officers is Flying Officer Sarah Gbassa who emerged the Best All Round, having distinguished herself in academics, flying, discipline and officership. 

The Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Ibikunle Amosun, in a statement said the graduation ceremony, which took place on Thursday at 401 Flying Training School (401 FTS), Kaduna saw 16 students pilots graduating on the Diamond 40 aircraft and 10 on the Super Mushshak aircraft types.

Speaking at the occasion, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique  Abubakar, represented by the Commandant, Air Traffic Services Training Centre, Air Vice Marshal Haruna Mohammed, recalled how flying training in the NAF plummeted to its lowest ebbs in the 90s owing to a myriad of challenges ranging from unavailability of training platforms to logistics support related.

Abubakar however,  revealed that from mid-2006 to date, successive NAF administrations had endeavoured to rejuvenate flying training in the NAF. He acknowledged the efforts and diligence to build adequate capacity in the NAF, which had materialized into the production of an unprecedented number of pilots, with 92 new pilots winged in the last four years. 

He further disclosed that since the inception of the current NAF leadership, the NAF had acquired 10 brand new Super Mushshak aircraft and upgraded facilities at 401 FTS to boost ab-initio flying training. 

The CAS urged the graduands to sustain the attitude of rugged determination that carried them through ab-initio training to the next phase of their flying training whilst continuing to work hard to reach the zenith of their careers.

Earlier, the Commander 401 FTS, Air Commodore Enebong Effiom, disclosed that this was the first time that the school was graduating students on two aircraft types at the same time since its inception.

Effiom stated that the school had trained 114 student pilots, comprising  86 students on the Diamond 40 aircraft and 28 on the Super Mushshak aircraft, in the last four years.

He attributed the success and commendable achievements of the Unit to the visionary leadership, unwavering support and enabling environment created by the CAS.

The course, which lasted for 17 months, consisted of three phases; namely ground academics, survival training and flying phase. 

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Highlight of the ceremony was the presentation of awards to students who distinguished themselves during the training.

Apart from Flying Officer Gbassa who emerged the overall best, Flying Officer Abdussamad Sadiq was the Best in Academics while Flying Officer Godwin Owoicho was the Best in Flying on Super Mushshak aircraft and Flying Officer Emmanuel Thomas was Best in Flying on Diamond 40 aircraft. 

Commandants and Commanders of NAF Units in Kaduna, family members and friends of the graduating students graced the occasion.

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