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In Photos: Somalia Celebrates Africa’s First Female Pilot, Asli Hassan Abade

Somalia is commending the continent’s first female pilot who was an officer of the nation’s Air Force decades back.

The 59-year-old Asli Hassan Abade, returned for all time to Somalia in July 2017 after more than two decades abroad. Till date, she is the nation’s first and only female pilot having made her maiden flight in 1976.

She left Somalia in the 1970s to train as a pilot in Italy and later moved to the United States. She came back to her local land to join the Somali Air Force and began flying planes in 1976.

I could not believe that I was actually in Mogadishu. I looked at the ocean, raised my hands up and inhaled the fresh, natural and unpolluted air. It was a magical moment.

She attributes her successful career in the country’s Air Force to the support women received from the government in that era. She grew up near the Mogadishu airport back in the day and believes seeing planes fly and land fueled her interest in becoming a pilot.


After a decade of service with the Somali Air Force, Ms. Abade left the country again and married an American aircraft engineer.

“We settled in Dallas Fort Worth in Texas, to start a family. My husband and I are blessed with a girl and three boys,” she told the United Nations mission in Somalia.

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Ms. Abade visited Somalia in July 2017 for the second time in six years. In 2011 she flew into Mogadishu to deliver medical supplies to the Forlanini (Lazaretto) Children’s Hospital as the country was grappling with its worst famine in many years.

She fondly recalled her 2011 trip which lasted less than 24 hours due to the presence of insurgent group, Al-Shabaab in the capital Mogadishu. “I did not have the liberty to move around Mogadishu like I am doing now, or talk to the media.

“There were several former colleagues, officers and pilots, waiting to receive me at the airport. I cried, and they all got emotional and cried with me. When I stepped out of the plane, I first kissed the ground.”

“I could not believe that I was actually in Mogadishu. I looked at the ocean, raised my hands up and inhaled the fresh, natural and unpolluted air. It was a magical moment,” she said.

Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Press and Public Relations wing led the congratulatory messages for Asli. Many nationals joined on social media platform Twitter.

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Written by How Africa

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