Captain Ijelu, Nwaogwugwu: Meet NAF history making all-female crew

NAF captain Oluwabunmi Ijelu and Genevieve Nwaogwugwu as co-pilot check their Beachcraft Helicopter before the reconnaissance mission

By Doris Esa

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) made history on 28 May with the conduct of an operational Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission by an all-female crew.

Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, made this known in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

Daramola said the mission, which was conducted using the NAF Beechcraft KingAir ISR aircraft, had Flying Officers, Oluwabunmi Ijelu as captain and Genevieve Nwaogwugwu as Co-Pilot.

He said on the mission, were also Sergeant Njoku Patience as the Airborne Tactical Observation System (ATOS) mission operator and Lance Corporal Shawulu Godiya as the on-board technician.

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Chief of Air Staff Sadique Abubakar

“It is noteworthy that Flying Officer Ijelu is the first female officer to become a Captain on a NAF aircraft.

“The aircraft was also marshalled by a female Marshaller, Aircraft woman David Precious.

“The mission, which was preceded by the customary pre-flight briefing, originated from the 307 Executive Airlift Group (307 EAG), at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport.

The NAF all -female crew getting set for mission

“It covered selected areas of interest in Niger State and its environs, where intelligence that would support NAF air interdiction missions as well as the operations of ground forces was gathered.”

Daramola said the Commander 307 EAG, Air Commodore Francis Edosa, while welcoming the all-female crew from the mission, applauded them for displaying a high level of professionalism.

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Edosa said that the feat was only made possible as a result of the commitment of Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, to providing a level playing field for all personnel, whether male or female, to thrive and realise their dreams and aspirations in service to the Nation.

This, Edosa said, had translated into tangible positive results.

He thanked the CAS for giving the female personnel the opportunity to prove their worth in hitherto male-dominated specialties in the NAF.

Daramola said that within the past 4 and half years of the current NAF leadership, there has been a surge in the involvement of female personnel in areas that were previously the preserve of men.

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He noted that five female pilots have been winged within the period, bringing the total number of female pilots in the NAF to 7.

Daramola said many other female officers and airwomen were also excelling in their various fields of specialisation including Regiment and Special Forces, Aircraft/Armament Engineers and Technicians as well as Air Traffic Controllers, amongst others.

He said the NAF’s objective in this regard was to maximise all of the potentials of Nigeria’s vast human resource pool, male and female, to ensure the effective, efficient and timely employment of Air Power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.

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