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Afghan UPT Begins at Home: Three Afghan air force Cessna 182s lifted off from Shindand Air Base on the first fixed-wing undergraduate pilot training sorties from Afghan soil in 30 years, according to their US Air Force advisors. "The main goal here is to transition all of the training to the Afghans, so these first students are key to the success of a fully independent Afghan air force," said flight instructor Lt. Col. James Bands of the 838th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group. The flights took place on March 24. Over the next six months, the students will complete UPT in the Cessna 182 before upgrading to the Cessna 208 Caravan for 10 months of intermediate training. Working with civilian contract instructors, advisors are tracking the first students to "determine which students will continue flying these aircraft and which ones will return to instruct other AAF pilot candidates," noted Bands. AAF students previous completed all UPT training abroad with US and partner air forces. (Shindand report by SSgt. Nadine Barclay)