June 19, 2014 (by SSgt. Vernon Young) - The Afghan Air Force marked another major step in their military growth with its first all-Afghan aircrew C-130 Hercules mission on June 16, 2014.
Afghan Air Force 1st Lt. , Shawanaz Nabi Zada, laughs as 1st Lt. Khiah Shinwari showers water over his uniform in celebration of the first-ever all Afghan C-130 flight, Kabul, Afghanistan on June 16, 2014. The aircrew, made up of six Afghan Air Force pilots and loadmasters, successfully completed a mission from Kabul to Kandahar and back. [USAF photo by SSgt. Vernon Young Jr.]
The aircrew, comprised six Afghan Air Force pilots and loadmasters, successfully completed a mission from Kabul to Kandahar and back. The aircrew planned, executed and accounted for movement of 120 Afghan personnel, two casualty evacuation patients and cargo.
"With the use of the C-130, we have the ability to do so much more," said Afghan Air Force 1st Lt. Khail Shinwar, C-130 Hercules pilot. "We've supported the elections, our Afghan National Army soldiers, senior leadership and transport the injured on CASEVAC missions with this aircraft."
The ability for the AAF aircrew to move Afghan National Army Security Forces personnel, cargo, CASEVAC patients and human remains missions is a major accomplishment for both the AAF and NATO Air Training Command - Afghanistan advisors assigned to the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing.
"The Afghan Air Force qualified eight months ahead of schedule," said Col. Aimal Pacha, C-130 Hercules pilot aircraft commander.
Brig. Gen. John E. Michele, NATO Air Training Command - Afghanistan commander, Afghan National Army key leaders and U.S. advisors from the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, were there to greet the aircrew upon arrival to Kabul International Airport.
Lt. Shinwar said that he was proud to see leadership greeting them upon landing after their first flight.
"They wouldn't have gotten this far without discipline and dedication to the mission," said Senior Master Sgt. Mike Falcho, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron loadmaster. "I take great pride in working with the Afghans."