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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Bahrain royal becomes kingdom's first female fighter pilot

Sheikha Aisha bint Rashid Al Khalifa's inaugural flight was attended by her grandfather, the prime minister of Bahrain

Bahraini Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman watched on Thursday as his granddaughter made her inaugural flight as the kingdom's first female fighter pilot.

Sheikha Aisha bint Rashid Al Khalifa took off from Sheikh Isa Air Base on hour-long flight demonstrating her skills piloting a BAE Hawk, state news agency BNA reported.

The prime minister congratulated his granddaughter and praised her for completing the intense training needed to become a fighter jet pilot, which the Bahrain News Agency described as an “accomplishment that embodies determination and the spirit of defiance of Bahraini women”.

Read more: UAE's female fighter pilot leads air strikes against ISIS

Sheikha Aisha, a graduate of Britain's prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, holds the rank of pilot officer in the Royal Bahraini Air force.

The young royal joins other GCC women who have taken to the skies in defence of their countries, including Major Mariam Al Mansouri, the UAE’s first female pilot.

Maj Mariam Al Mansouri. Wam
Maj Mariam Al Mansouri. Wam

Maj Al Mansouri was 35 in 2014 when she led air raids on ISIS in an F16 jet.

Sheikh Aisha is not the only royal fighter pilot in the region.

Prince Khaled bin Salman. Saudi Press Agency / AFP
Prince Khaled bin Salman. Saudi Press Agency / AFP

Prince Khaled bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the US and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's brother, was an F15 fighter pilot and took part in air strikes against ISIS in 2014.

He was appointed ambassador to the US in 2017 and has been instrumental in strengthening relations between Riyadh and Washington.