• Students from throughout Kandahar City file into a hangar at the Afghan Air Force's Kandahar Air Wing Jan. 1 for the unit's third annual open house. About 350 students and elders from the area attended the event, which gave them an up close look at the aircraft that protect the country. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie L. Carl, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs/Released)

    Kandahar Air Wing rings in New Year with annual open house

    Students from throughout Kandahar City file into a hangar at the Afghan Air Force's Kandahar Air Wing Jan. 1 for the unit's third annual open house. About 350 students and elders from the area attended the event, which gave them an up close look at the...

  • Kandahar area students run onto the flight line of the Afghan Air Force's Kandahar Air Wing to explore Afghan and Coalition aircraft on display during the unit's third annual open house Jan. 1. The students had an opportunity to climb inside the cockpit of airplanes and helicopters during the event. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie L. Carl, Task Force Thunder Public Affairs/Released)

    Kandahar Air Wing rings in New Year with annual open house

    Kandahar area students run onto the flight line of the Afghan Air Force's Kandahar Air Wing to explore Afghan and Coalition aircraft on display during the unit's third annual open house Jan. 1. The students had an opportunity to climb inside the...

  • A student from Kandahar City reads his speech during a ceremony at the Afghan Air Force Kandahar Air Wing Jan. 1 during the unit's third annual open house. The open house gives students and local leaders an opportunity to learn more about their country's military and what it does to protect the people. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie L. Carl, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs/Released)

    Kandahar Air Wing rings in New Year with annual open house

    A student from Kandahar City reads his speech during a ceremony at the Afghan Air Force Kandahar Air Wing Jan. 1 during the unit's third annual open house. The open house gives students and local leaders an opportunity to learn more about their...

  • Kandahar area students listen to a description of the different controls inside the cockpit of an Afghan Air Force plane during the Kandahar Air Wing's third annual open house Jan. 1. One of the boys, a 17-year-old 11th grader, said he's looking forward to graduating school so he can become a pilot. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie L. Carl, Task Force Thunder Public Affairs/Released)

    Kandahar Air Wing rings in New Year with annual open house

    Kandahar area students listen to a description of the different controls inside the cockpit of an Afghan Air Force plane during the Kandahar Air Wing's third annual open house Jan. 1. One of the boys, a 17-year-old 11th grader, said he's looking...

  • Female students from the Kandahar area talk with OH-58 Kiowa pilot Chief Warrant Officer 4 Anne Wiley during the Kandahar Air Wing's third annual open house Jan. 1. The KAW, which is an element of the Afghan Air Force, provides both fixed and rotary wing aviation support to Afghan forces throughout southern Afghanistan. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie L. Carl, Task Force Thunder Public Affairs/Released)

    Kandahar Air Wing rings in New Year with annual open house

    Female students from the Kandahar area talk with OH-58 Kiowa pilot Chief Warrant Officer 4 Anne Wiley during the Kandahar Air Wing's third annual open house Jan. 1. The KAW, which is an element of the Afghan Air Force, provides both fixed and rotary...

  • Afghan students try on aviation equipment and explore aircraft during an open house Jan. 1 that was hosted by the Afghan Air Force's Kandahar Air Wing. This is the third year the unit has opened its doors to the local children and elders. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie L. Carl, Task Force Thunder Public Affairs/Released)

    Kandahar Air Wing rings in New Year with annual open house

    Afghan students try on aviation equipment and explore aircraft during an open house Jan. 1 that was hosted by the Afghan Air Force's Kandahar Air Wing. This is the third year the unit has opened its doors to the local children and elders. (U.S. Army...

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- About 350 school children and elders from Kandahar Province visited the Afghan Air Force Kandahar Air Wing Jan. 1 during its third annual open house, where they had the opportunity to become familiar with the aircraft they often see or hear overhead.
Soldiers from the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, which provides mentorship to the Wing's helicopter and ground maintenance crews, gave the guests tours of an AH-64 Apache, an OH-58 Kiowa, a CH-47 Chinook and a UH-60 Blackhawk.
The Kandahar Air Wing also had aircraft on display, including the MI-17 and the new MI-15 helicopter, as well as airplanes.
Before the students visited the aircraft, key leaders from the Afghan Air Force welcomed all of the guests to the event.
"I would like to thank all of Kandahar Province and its leaders for supporting the Kandahar Air Wing," said Maj. Gen. Abdul Wahab Wardak, the commander of the Afghan Air Force, during the ceremony. "We have faced a lot of problems, and still we face many challenges in training and with maintaining these aircraft."
Wahab also emphasized the role the Afghan youth play in the country's future.
"It's important that our younger generations are able to defend Afghanistan. It's your nation, and you must support them, defend them."
To facilitate this, Wahab mentioned plans to open a recruiting center for the Afghan Air Force in Kandahar, among other locations. Currently, all recruiting for the organization is done in Kabul, the country's capital. He also stressed the importance of education as a qualifying factor in becoming a member of the air force, a message that wasn't lost on the students.
"I'm going to fly airplanes!" exclaimed a 17-year-old Afghan boy as he explored the cockpit of one of the airplanes. Before he can do that though, he has to finish school. The boy is currently in the 11th grade, but cannot join the Air Force until he completes 12th grade.
The visitors to the Air Wing included several classes of female students from girls' schools in the Kandahar area, many who were excited by the idea of flying the helicopters. A group of the girls visited briefly with Chief Warrant Officer 4 Anne Wiley, who pilots the OH-58 Kiowa. Wiley talked to the girls about her experiences as an aviator, and said she was very happy to have such a captive audience.
"It's so great to see so many girls here for this event," Wiley said.

Page last updated Sun January 1st, 2012 at 00:00