Laughlin graduates first female Lebanese fighter pilot

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman David Phaff
  • 47th Flying Training Wing public affairs

Laughlin graduated the first female Lebanese fighter pilot from its undergraduate pilot training program Feb. 3, 2023. Lebanese Air Force 2nd Lt. Jana Sader finished her training and will return home to fly the A-29 Super Tucano, a light attack aircraft.


The U.S. Air Force and Air Education and Training Command train thousands of students from countries all around the world annually. By hosting students from ally and partner nations, the Department of Defense can strengthen relationships and interoperability with these countries.


“The greatest strength of training with allies and partners is a mutual understanding of each other through a shared experience,” said Maj. Erin Doyle, 47th Flying Training Wing international military support officer. “As with every relationship, a shared experience strengthens bonds. Those relationships expose us to different points of view, perspective on how another military operates and provide insight into new cultures. This diversity of exposure helps us think differently about the world around us and harness collaboration when solving complex problems. Over time, these are the bonds that foster coalition warfare cooperation and capacity.”


The U.S. and Lebanon are working collectively toward the common goal of a stable, secure, and prosperous Middle East and Lebanon is a vital U.S. partner on a wide range of regional security issues. By training Lebanese pilots, the two nations can better pursue those goals.


For Sader, helping the two nations build their cooperation began with a drive to serve her country.


“In the beginning, I just wanted to join the military to serve my country,” said Sader. “Then I got into the military academy, and the Air Force seemed like something that was so far away.”


With the size of the Lebanese Air Force, pilot slots are very competitive, and only a few are selected each year to be able to take to the sky and serve their nation as pilots.


“It was really competitive to get to this spot,” said Sader. “With our leadership wanting women to be pilots, finally, we were able to cross that barrier, and I just knew I wanted it, and I’d have to work hard to get a spot.”


When she was selected for a spot, Sader was sent to Laughlin Air Force Base, to begin her training. Not only did she have the challenges of learning how to fly, she had to sharpen her English skills and adapt to a new culture and new aircraft.


“My biggest challenge for me was learning the T-38,” said Sader. “We used to fly small prop aircraft back in Lebanon. It was the first time I flew a twin-engine jet.”


After almost two years of training here, Sader reflects on her training with a sense of pride and accomplishment.


“Looking back at it, I feel like it was worth it, the early show times, 12-hour duty days,” said Sader. “With hard work and dedication, it feels great to represent my country and Air Force here while representing a good Lebanese officer and role model.”


As Sader was preparing for her journey to return to her home country, she hoped she’d be the first in a long line of others to chase these new opportunities.


“I hope by me doing this achievement, hopefully it will get the message out that we can do what we want, and now we have the opportunities to go after them,” said Sader.


Opportunities like this help shape our Air Force and allow everyone to learn and share knowledge and experiences with one another regardless of what it might be.


“Training allies and partners here at Laughlin, and throughout the UPT enterprise, enhances our interoperability and strengthens security cooperation through global relationship building,” said Doyle. “It creates a common language, common experience, and common understanding.”