Monday, March 16, 2009

Iraqi pilot graduates from RAF Cranwell

The first Iraqi pilot to achieve the full RAF 'wings' standard as a multi-engine pilot was among students graduating from the Flying Training School at RAF Cranwell.

Six RAF students received their pilot's wings today, while Lieutenant Ali Kareem, aged 21, received his Iraqi Air Force pilot's wings.

His new qualification paves the way for him to return to his homeland where the Iraqi Air Force (IAF) will complete his training on a multi-engine conversion unit. He will then take to the air flying military transport aircraft such as the C130 Hercules and the King Air.

Group Captain Nigel 'Wam' Wharmby, the Station Commander at RAF Cranwell and Officer Commanding No 3 Flying Training School, said:

"I am delighted that Lt Ali Kareem has graduated successfully from his multi-engine flying training at RAF Cranwell. The course is complex and extremely demanding, necessarily so, covering all basic flying disciplines in order to prepare students for the challenge of operating any of the diverse fleet of multi-engine aircraft in service.

"Beyond the basic rigours of flying, the course also focuses heavily on captaincy, airmanship and crew resource management - intangible but vital attributes for military aircrew.

"Several inevitably will struggle to make the standard required for graduation and thereby the award of their coveted flying brevet or wings, whilst others may never achieve that standard.

"Challenge enough for RAF students, but for Lt Kareem to have achieved the graduation standard, despite the many additional pressures of having to integrate into unfamiliar surroundings, a different culture and the RAF way of life, has been very satisfying for the staff and his colleagues on the course to witness."

Previously, Iraqi International Defence students undertaking training in the UK have shied away from publicity for fear of reprisals on return to Iraq but with the improved security in his country Lieutenant Kareem was happy to speak to the media and said:

"The course has been both challenging and enjoyable, a real mixture of the two. Graduation is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I'm really proud of my achievement. I'm now looking forward to going back home and continuing with my training with the Iraqi Air Force."

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