Open Skies

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What to expect

The true story of Niloofar Rahmani and her determination to become Afghanistan’s first female air force pilot.

In 2010, for the first time since the Soviets, Afghanistan allowed women to join the armed forces, and Niloofar entered Afghanistan’s military academy.

Niloofar had to break through social barriers to demonstrate confidence, leadership, and decisiveness—essential qualities for a combat pilot. Niloofar performed the first solo flight of her class—ahead of all her male classmates—and in 2013 became Afghanistan’s first female fixed-wing air force pilot.

The US State Department honored Niloofar with the International Women of Courage Award and brought her to the United States to meet Michelle Obama and fly with the US Navy’s Blue Angels. But when she returned to Kabul, the danger to her and her family had increased significantly.

Rahmani and her family are portraits of the resiliency of refugees and the accomplishments they can reach when afforded with opportunities.

Critics Review

  • “Niloofar Rahmani’s story would be remarkable anywhere. But set as it is in Afghanistan, it soars beyond. Not only was her epic struggle to prove her worth as a fighter pilot compounded by intense threats from the Taliban, but she found little support from the men who should have been her brothers in arms. Her story of perseverance and triumph will be an inspiration not only for women but for anyone striving to achieve a difficult goal in the face of opposition.”

    Jim DeFelice, #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor of American Sniper
  • “Exhilarating…Delivered with compassion and courage, Rahmani’s heart-racing account will leave readers gripping their seats. This is a vital work of the highest order.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “As a young Afghan woman who dreamed of becoming an air force pilot, Niloofar Rahmani confronted far more than technical challenges; she faced the opprobrium of an entire society.”

    Pamela Constable, author of Playing with Fire and former Kabul and Islamabad bureau chief for the Washington Post

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