F-16 Fighting Falcon News

First female F-16 pilot to serve the UAE

June 11, 2014 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Captain Mariam Hassan Salem Al Mansouri has become the first Emirati female pilot to serve in the UAE Air Force and may very well be the first Gulf woman to enjoy the title. She is 35 and flies the F-16 block 60 aircraft as a squadron commander.

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Captain Mariam Hassan Salem Al Mansouri has become the first Emirati female pilot to serve in the UAE Air Force and may very well be the first Gulf woman to enjoy the title. She is 35 and flies the F-16 block 60 aircraft as a squadron commander. [UAEAF photo]

With backing from her family, Mansouri, who had always wanted to fly fighter jets for her country, joined the UAE Air Force in 2007 when authorities first announced they were accepting volunteers.

During her career, Mansouri has taken part in a significant number of the aerial maneuvers both inside and outside the UAE alongside allied and friendly states.

Emirati Vice President and Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashed al-Maktoum honored Mansouri for her achievement and presented her with the "Pride of the Emirates Medal" as part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Excellence Award for distinguished governmental performance.

Captain Mariam said in an interview that first and foremost she competed with herself to pave her own path in developing her own abilities. She said that unlike competing with others, competing with yourself is a never-ending process and is a source of motivation for continuous learning.

Captain Mariam joined the Armed Forces right after high school. Back then, women were still not allowed to become pilots in the Air Force. She continued to work in the General Command of the UAE Armed Forces, and once women were permitted to join the Air Force, she was the first to apply. Captain Mariam holds a bachelor"s degree in English literature from UAE University, and later joined the Khalifa bin Zayed Aviation College where she graduated in 2007.

She also pointed out that she also likes the field"s high level of competitiveness, which requires one to exert all efforts to achieve excellence.