Female Afghan helicopter pilots left grounded
By The Los Angeles Times
Published: Saturday, December 29, 2012, 9:18 p.m.
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
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.
- Man who allegedly hacked soldier to death in London identified as Muslim convert
- Red tape hampers research on virus
- Syria’s civil war combat spilling into Lebanon
- Israeli warplanes strike Syria in escalation
- Afghan students protest women’s rights
- Indian circuses fight for life
- Bombs shred Sunni areas, killing 76
- Algerian transition concerns U.S.
- Afghan women’s rights suffer setback
- Bomber kills 14 at Afghan provincial council
- Venezuela opposition: Cuba calls the shots
You must be signed in to add comments
To comment, click the Sign in or sign up at the very top of this page.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.