Pakistan Air Force is the eighth largest air force in the world by the number of military aircraft. It is, however, the topmost air force in the world in terms of gallantry and spirit.
As a nation, it’s important to acknowledge and honour the courage and sacrifices of our great war heroes, because they are the pride of Pakistan. Therefore, in honour of air force day today, we have listed the top five legendary aviators of Pakistan amongst many.
1. Muhammad Mahmood Alam:
Nationally popular as M.M. Alam, the gallant aviation hero easily belongs at the top of the list. M.M. Alam was the first aviator to score a flying ace under one minute in the 1965 war, thus establishing a world record by becoming an ace in a day.
He was nicknamed “little dragon” for his extraordinary flying skills, and twice awarded sitara-e-jurat, which is the third highest military award in Pakistan.
2. Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui:
Squadron Leader Rafiqui was one of the bravest air fighters of Pakistan. He is majorly known for his gallant role in two of the aerial combats during 1965 Indo-Pakistan war.
He heroically achieved martyrdom at the young age of 30 on 6th September 1965, and was posthumously awarded hilal-e-jurat and sitara-e-jurat, respectively the second and third highest military awards of Pakistan.
3. Ayesha Farooque:
Flight Lieutenant Ayesha Farooque is the first female Pakistani and South Asian fighter pilot qualified for combat in the battlefield. She became the first lady war-ready fighter pilot of Pakistan in 2013.
She continues to be a source of pride for Pakistan and inspiration for young girls by currently flying missions in a Chinese-made Chengdu J-7 fighter jet alongside her 24 male colleagues in Squadron 20.
In an interview, she advised young women to:
“Become a role model yourself, instead of looking up to them.”
4. Marium Mukhtiar:
Flying Officer Marium Mukhtiar became the first ever female aviator of Pakistan to embrace martyrdom in the line of duty on 24th November 2015.
According to her family, joining the air force as a GD pilot had always been her dream. She had once said to her father:
When a pilot embraces martyrdom, you only find the ashes, not the pilot.
And, as if to demonstrate that, Marium, along with her instructor-pilot Squadron Leader Saqib Abbasi, embraced shahadat while struggling till the last minute to save the aircraft, to protect national property and the human life.
Government of Pakistan awarded her with tamgha-e-basalat posthumously, and COAS General Raheel Sharif condoled her by saying:
“She was indeed a role model for women and pride of Pakistan.”
5. Mervyn Middlecoat:
Wing Commander Mervyn Middlecoat was a Pakistani aviator from Pakistan Air Force who fought in a number of aerial combats during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistani wars.
Middlecoat had served the Royal Jordanian Airforce and hence the King Hussein of Jordan requested for him to be buried with a Jordanian flag under his head.
However, it could not have been made possible since his remains were never found and he was just assumed to not have survived since he landed in shark-infested water.