News Icon

News: Afghan pilots fly first fixed wing combat mission

Story by Staff Sgt. Richard AndradeSmall RSS IconSubscriptions Icon

Afghan pilots fly first fixed wing combat mission Master Sgt. Benjamin Bloker

Afghan Air Force 1st Lt. Emal Khairkhwa, 373rd Fixed Wing Squadron pilot, communicates with the control tower as AAF 1st Lt. Mohammad Tawfiq Safi, copilot, looks on before a Cessna 208 mission out of Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, Aug 6, 2013. This mission marked the first all AAF fixed wing combat mission flown from the Kabul Air Wing. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Master Sgt. Ben Bloker)

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan air force pilots made history Sept. 7, 2013, by flying the first all-AAF fixed wing combat mission from the Kabul International Airport.

The Cessna 208 pilots, assigned to the AAF, 373rd Fixed Wing Squadron, based in Kabul, were trained by advisers assigned to the U.S. Air Force, 538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron, of the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing at the Kabul Air Wing.

“Today is a big day for our squadron,” said AAF 1st Lt. Emal Khairkhwa, a 373rd FWS pilot. “We have been looking forward to this day for a long time. Today we will have an all Afghan crew flying Afghan soldiers for the first time.”

In the past there was one U.S. and one Afghan pilot in the cockpit, today both will be Afghan. The missions will vary for the C-208 pilots. They will help move passengers or cargo throughout Afghanistan and helping with casualty evacuation if the mission requires it.

Khairkhwa said he has more than 700 hundred hours of flight time experience. He is the first pilot in his squadron to be an aircraft commander. He hoped all the pilots would fly safe and will apply what they learned from their mentors. Khairkhwa praised the advisors who helped the AAF for the last couple of months and was looking forward to this day.

One of the advisors, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Kirk, said the day’s event is huge. During the past few months they worked side-by-side making sure the AAF pilots could handle their responsibilities.

“It took a lot of work, they come ready to work every day,” said Kirk. “Today we get to see the fruits of their labor.”

Before boarding the aircraft there was a ceremony attended by the advisors and AAF senior leaders including Afghan Brig. Gen. Mohammed Barat, Kabul Wing Commander of the Afghan air force.

The AAF pilots made history moving forward as Coalition Forces draw down and Afghanistan builds up their air force. Following the ceremony Kirk congratulated the group and told them he was proud of them.

Barat spoke to the AAF pilots and reminded them they are making history as they helped their military become self-reliant. He shook each pilot’s hand as they received their certificates allowing them to be fly C-208. After the ceremony, the crew and their advisors gathered for a group photo.

Kirk said he felt very proud adding that each of the AAF pilots was ready and excited to fly on their own. He said the highlight of the day was when pilots and advisors got together to shake hands following the ceremony.

“You could just feel the cohesiveness,” said Kirk. “With a bond of trust you can do a lot of things.”

Immediately following the ceremony the pilots performed their pre-flight checks on the aircraft as their passengers climbed aboard the C-208. The pilots flew to various parts of Afghanistan transporting cargo and Afghan National Army soldiers. As the last plane taxied down the airstrip, the historic mission marked the first all-AAF fixed wing combat mission to depart from the Kabul Air Wing.

Connected Media
ImagesAfghan pilots fly...
Afghan Brig. Gen. Mohammed Barat, right, Kabul Wing...
ImagesAfghan pilots fly...
Afghan air force pilots and their advisers pose for a...
ImagesAfghan pilots fly...
Afghan air force 1st Lt. Emal Khairkhwa, 373rd Fixed...
ImagesAfghan pilots fly...
A Cessna 308 taxies down the flightline of the Kabul Air...
ImagesAfghan pilots fly...
Afghan Air Force 1st Lt. Emal Khairkhwa, 373rd Fixed...

Web Views

Podcast Hits

Public Domain Mark
This work, Afghan pilots fly first fixed wing combat mission, by SSG Richard Andrade, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:09.07.2013

Date Posted:09.12.2013 09:11


More Like This

  • Members of the Hungarian air force deployed with the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron held a change of command ceremony at the Afghan air force base in Kabul, Jan. 15. The ceremony marked the transition of responsibility from one group of airmen attached to the HAF “Phoenix” squadron to another.
  • While Christmas is celebrated around the world, Dec. 25 in Afghanistan is just a normal day for members of the Afghan military. So instead of opening presents or peeping into candy filled stocking, Afghan air force airmen and members of the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron Security forces advisors conducted an AAF Security Kandak exercise at the Afghan air force base in Kabul, Afghanistan.
  • An Afghan air force Mi-17 transport helicopter instructor pilot recently trained an AAF student pilot on flying procedures at the AAF training center in Shindand, marking the first time an AAF Mi-17 IP served as chief instructor for an Afghan pilot.
  • Aircraft are useless without proper maintenance, pilots and the fuel needed to feed the beast.

One senior non-commissioned officer is working to improve the capabilities of the Afghan Air Force one fuel sample at a time.

Air Force Master Sgt. Jeremiah Fentress, a fuels flight advisor with the 439th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron at Kabul International Airport, Afghanistan, recently conducted training on basic fuels laboratory analysis with three Afghan air force fuels specialists assigned here.


  • Army
  • Marines
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • National Guard




  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Flickr