The Nigerien Air Force’s (NAF) first female pilot, Captain Ouma Laouali, completed training at Little Rock Air Force Base (AFB) in Arkansas, US.

Under the C-130 Formal Training Unit’s six-month international pilot training programme, she was trained to become a pilot for C-130 Hercules.

During her ten-year career, the Nigerian pilot has flown aircraft that include the Cessna 208 Caravan and the Diamond DA42.

Laouali said: “What’s interesting about flying is to be up in the sky like a bird, and getting to see the incredible view that is not given to anyone else besides a pilot.

“There is nothing but open sky in front of you and you see how big the world really is.”

Laouali accomplished the goal of becoming the NAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron Operational Detachment commander.

NAF 201 commander Amadou Moctar said: “She is a pioneer in every domain. She has been flying with the other crew members and they don’t look at the fact that she is a woman, she is a pilot, performing just as good as the others.”

This training exercise was the first time the pilot trained with the US military, learning to control and fly combat-capable pilot of a C-130 Hercules.

Laouali added: “This is the first time I’ve trained on a US base. It has given me the opportunity to see how the US Air Force (USAF) operates.”

The training opportunity strengthens the USAF’s strategic and international relationships with countries worldwide.

Every year, the 314th Airlift Wing and the 189th Airlift Wing train more than 1,200 students.