Female Afghan helicopter pilots left grounded
KABUL, Afghanistan — Unlike most women in Afghanistan, Sourya Saleh knows how to drive — but she's taken the wheel only with her brother beside her, out of respect for tradition. Her friend Masooma Hussaini is still learning.
Both young women, though, are experts in a more demanding mode of travel: They've flown 204 hours each as pilots of military helicopters.
The first female chopper pilots in Afghanistan since the Soviets trained a woman as a pilot in the 1980s, these two are pioneers.
After 18 months of military helicopter training in the United States, 2nd Lt. Saleh and 2nd Lt. Hussaini have returned home as two polished, confident Afghan air force pilots. But they don't have uniforms, flight suits or an assignment. They haven't even seen a helicopter, much less flown one.
Since returning here Oct. 28, they've spent their days at home with their families, helping with housework. A superior says their paperwork is “under review.”
“It seems we've been put on a very long vacation,” Saleh said in nearly perfect English, honed by months in Texas and Alabama.
They prefer to believe that the country's nascent air force is just slow and bureaucratic and that they'll be flying soon.
“I fought too hard for the right to fight for my country — I'm not going to stay home and wait,” Hussaini said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
- Islamic State link with well-heeled companies or individuals targeted
- Unity agreement eases Afghanistan’s political crisis
- Thousands march in Moscow against Ukraine fighting
- Egyptian President al-Sisi feels vindicated in crackdown as Islamic extremists rise
- Scottish teens surprise in independence vote
- Mementos unearthed at Nazi death camp in Poland
- Turkish hostages freed from Islamic State, but questions linger
- NATO chief: Ukraine truce ‘in name only’
- London must keep promises to Scotland, former Prime Minister Brown says
- Venezuelan police chief freed from jail
- It’s not a small world after all: Global population estimated to soar