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First Nigerian female fighter pilot graduates from ALP at Columbus AFB

First Lt. Kafayat Sanni stands in front of a T-6 Texan II on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Sanni became the first female fighter pilot from the Nigerian air force, to graduate from the Aviation Leadership Program. ALP is a U.S. Air Force-funded program, providing students of friendly and developing countries with undergraduate pilot training scholarships. (Courtesy photo)

First Lt. Kafayat Sanni stands in front of a T-6 Texan II on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Sanni became the first female fighter pilot from the Nigerian air force, to graduate from the Aviation Leadership Program. ALP is a U.S. Air Force-funded program, providing students of friendly and developing countries with undergraduate pilot training scholarships. (Courtesy photo)

Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, pins on 1st Lt. Kafayat Sanni’s silver wings during a graduation ceremony Aug. 16, 2019, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Sanni became the first female fighter pilot in the Nigerian air force upon graduating from the Aviation Leadership Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, pins on 1st Lt. Kafayat Sanni’s silver wings during a graduation ceremony Aug. 16, 2019, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Sanni became the first female fighter pilot in the Nigerian air force upon graduating from the Aviation Leadership Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Davis Donaldson)

First Lt. Kafayat Sanni is congratulated by friends during a graduation ceremony Aug. 16, 2019, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Sanni became the first female fighter pilot in the Nigerian air force upon graduating from the Aviation Leadership Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Bean)

First Lt. Kafayat Sanni is congratulated by friends during a graduation ceremony Aug. 16, 2019, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Sanni became the first female fighter pilot in the Nigerian air force upon graduating from the Aviation Leadership Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Hannah Bean)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- First. Lt. Kafayat Sanni, of the Nigerian air force, became the first female fighter pilot in Nigeria upon graduating from the Aviation Leadership Program (ALP) with her fellow students from Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 19-21/22, Aug. 16 on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

ALP is a U.S. Air Force-funded program, providing students of partner and developing countries with undergraduate pilot training scholarships.

Sanni’s involvement in the program helps strengthen and exemplify the commitment between the U.S. and Nigeria, deepening their defense relationship and bilateral cooperation, an objective of the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding on Advancing Bilateral Defense Cooperation and the 2015 Joint Vision Statement on Defense Relations.

“Our international student pilot program at Columbus Air Force Base is extremely important to enhancing our global partnerships,” said Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander. “I am very happy for Sanni and Nigeria as they continue to move forward and take strides in their air force, and we wish her the best of luck as she returns to do great things.”

She was chosen by her officials to become a fighter pilot through training in the U.S. and she is one of five female pilots in Nigeria.

Before arriving at their pilot training base, ALP students attend the Defense Language Institute English Language Center (DLIELC) at Joint-Base San Antonio Lackland, Texas, for special purpose English training.

Sanni started at DLIELC in January 2018. Once she graduated from DLIELC, she then arrived at Columbus AFB to attend ALP in June 2018.

Capt. Christy Martin, Columbus AFB international military student officer, said she’s excited to watch Sanni grow and thrive as the first female fighter pilot in Nigeria.

“I think she is going to perform that title well. Sanni has a very bubbly personality and is was very positive throughout the whole entire training,” Martin said. “Pilot training is a very stressful, strenuous course, but she has always stayed positive. I think she is very determined and very excited to go back and fly fighters in her country as well.”

When she returns to Nigeria, Sanni said she plans to keep her expectations open-minded. Nonetheless, she said she’s excited to see what it really feels like to be in the fighter world and what comes next in her career.