The air force part of the Venezuelan military, called Aviación Militar Nacional Bolivariana de Venezuela in Spanish, started flight training on their first new Western made aircraft since then president Hugo Chávez died in 2013.
On 6 February 2015 Grupo de Entrenamiento Aéreo No 18 (Air Training Group No. 18; GEA18) of the Centro de Entrenamiento Aéreo (Air Training Centre) began instructing student pilots on the Diamond DA-40NG, made in Austria. The training flights are being made from Escuela Mariscal Sucre Airbase in the Maracay in the Aragua region near the city of Valencia. Amongst the pilots female lieutenants Maria Hidalgo and Risbely Linares, the first women to fly the DA-40 in Venezuelan service.
The Venezuelan Air Force is aiming to train a hundred students per year on the new aircraft, with 116 officers and 83 technicians on staff with GEA18. On 10 February 2014 Caracas signed a deal for the delivery of up to 36 Diamon DA-40s and DA-42s. The National Guard of the country already operates six DA-42 Twin Stars in the surveillance role.
Source: Aviación Militar Nacional Bolivariana de Venezuela
Featured image: The Diamond DA-40NG in Venezuelan Air Force service (Image © Aviación Militar Nacional Bolivariana de Venezuela)