Fifty years ago,the Nigeria Air Force took to the skies piloted by Germans.Today, former Abia state governor Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu is proud they parade a female fighter pilot.
Kalu while saluting the force on their Golden Jubilee anniversary,also gave kudos to the Nigerian pioneers who in 1963 began a journey to the blue skies under the guidance of Col.G. Kahtz .
He said,”I am so proud of the Air Force.From a motley crowd of expatriates,army officers and cadets,we now have a formidable force that could serve in any part of the world.There is so much to distinguish the airmen.”
There are stories about the airforce,of course.The first two service chiefs were Germans,their first Nigerian commander Brigadier Tamunoiyowunam Kurubo was a soldier,the last Nigerian military ruler Gen.Abdusalam Abubakar began as an airman,the first Airforce Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshall Al-Amin Dagash shares the same birthday with independent Nigeria and it was not until 1975,that a fighter pilot Col.John Yisa Doko became the sixth Air Chief.
“These are interesting stories,” the ex-governor continued.”Two Air Chiefs,bore the name of fighter jets.Ibrahim Alfa,a muslim from Adamawa,and Isaac Alfa,a christian from Kogi.And in 1989,the Aide De Camp to the former was Lawal,the son of Col.Shittu Alao,fourth Air Chief.And even before Nureini Yusuf became the ninth Air Chief,his son Jibril, was a fighter pilot.Col. Alao died in Uzebba in 1967,Flying Officer Yusuf in Chad,1982.”
Kalu paid tribute to some of the pioneer Airforce Cadets like Doko,Austine Okpe,Willy Bruce,AbdulGaniyu Ogunbadejo Gbadamosi King,George Musa Jebak,Danjuma Ato,Winston Aleyideino,John Ikeokwu Chukwu and Okafor.
“Brave boys,great men,trail blazers who knew tomorrow.I also give it to our young Blessing Liman,a lady warrior who does, not only stunts in the air,but fights like men,”Kalu summed up.
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