Canada could put a dent in the RCAF’s pilot shortage by answering the impassioned pleas of some enterprising Afghan Air Force officers. A total of 12 combat-seasoned pilots and a crew chief packed into a militarized version of a Cessna Caravan owned by their former employer and fled to Tajikistan as the Taliban took over in mid-August. They’ve picked Canada as their asylum target and make a compelling case. “They will kill us,” one of the pilots told CBC News. “We are sure they will kill us because we are fighter pilots.”
The pilots were trapped at Kabul Airport as the Taliban moved in. They’d heard that some of their colleagues had already been killed by the Taliban in retribution for 20 years of attacks by the Afghans on the Taliban insurgents. “I killed them,” he said. “I rocketed them. I shot them. I am sure if I killed someone they would take their revenge and kill us.” The pilots and the crew chief are hoping Canada will take them and their families in. They’re trained in flying attack helicopters and the converted Cessna, known as the “Hellfire” in honour of the potent air-to-ground missile it carries.