Our Aviation Book of the Month

Looking for a new book to read this month? Each month we select one of our favorite aviation books to be our book of the month.

Here you will find an in depth look at our selection along with what makes it such a great read. Learn the backstory, read reviews, and find out how the story is included in our museum. These are the books that inspire us and help us learn more about the wonderful world of Aviation.

Open Skies
My Life as Afghanistan's First Female Pilot

by Niloofar Rahmani with Adam Sikes

Visit store page for Open Skies My Life as Afghanistan's First Female Pilot


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

Niloofar Rahmani Flying

About Niloofar Rahmani

Niloofar Rahmani enlisted in the Afghan Air Force Officer Training Program in 2010 and in July 2012 graduated as a Second Lieutenant. Throughout the program, Afghan air force doctors attempted to deem her physically unfit to fly; she was the only female candidate in the program. Two female helicopter pilots during the Soviet era, the Nabizada sisters, along with her father, served as inspiration for Rahmani's achievement.

Her first solo flight was in a Cessna 182. Wanting to fly larger aircraft, she went to advanced flight school and was soon flying the C-208 military cargo aircraft. Women are traditionally banned from transporting dead or wounded soldiers; however, Rahmani defied orders when she discovered injured soldiers upon landing in one mission. Flying them to a hospital, she reported her actions to her superiors, who imposed no sanctions.

When her achievements were publicized, Captain Rahmani's family received threats from both family members and the Taliban, which disapproved of her ambition and career choices. The family has had to move several times, but Rahmani was resolute and aimed to fly a larger C-130 plane and become a flight instructor to inspire other women. She began training on C-130s with the US Air Force in 2015 and completed the program in December 2016, following which she applied for asylum in the United States. Rahmani hoped to eventually become a military pilot for the United States Air Force.

Photo of Niloofar Rahmani and fellow soliders


4.83 Stars on Goodreads      5 Stars on Amazon

  • “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
  • “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, coauthor of American Sniper, Code Name: Johnny Walker, and Every Man a Hero
  • "A highly readable memoir for older teens researching the fight for women's rights around the world or looking for inspiration."—Booklist, starred review

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Open Skies My Life as Afghanistan's First Female Pilot Book

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