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Pilots: Niloofar Rahmani and Esther Mbabazi

Afghan Air Force pilot Captain Niloofar Rahmani discusses dealing with threats and nervous passengers with Rwanda's first ever female pilot First Officer Esther Mbabazi

Captain Niloofar Rahmani is a pilot in the Afghan Air Force. Although there were female helicopter pilots before her, she is the first woman in the history of Afghanistan's military to fly a fixed-wing plane. The 23-year-old takes charge of cargo planes which are used to carry people and supplies to conflict zones. She was inspired, she says, "by my father's dreams." After Niloofar's story was first publicised she began to receive threats from the Taliban and others in Afghanistan who thought her career choice was inappropriate for a woman.

First Officer Esther Mbabazi is the first Rwandan woman to qualify as a commercial airline pilot. As the daughter of travelling missionaries her ambition to fly was formed as a 4-year-old passenger, entranced by the on-board crew and atmosphere. Now at 26 Esther regularly flies routes all over Africa but sometimes her passengers say they won't fly with a female pilot. She tells them that they're "welcome to jump off, and good luck getting a refund!"

Presenter: Kim Chakanetsa

Niloofar-Rahmani. Credit: Shah Marai, AFP, Getty
Esther Mbabazi. Credit: Esther Mbabazi

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27 minutes


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