Major (MAJ) Nah Jinping is the Deputy Director of the Air Force Branch in the Defence Psychology Department. She was awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship (Women) and has obtained her Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology from the University of Nottingham and Master of Arts in Educational Studies from the University of Michigan in England and the United States, respectively.
Instrumental to the protection of Singapore’s peace and stability, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has since evolved into a technologically advanced and first-class air force, committed to defending Singapore's airspace and protecting the nation’s interests.
Those who are part of this legacy have the drive when they take to the skies–Major (MAJ) Nah Jinping is no exception. As one of the few female fighter pilots in the Air Force, she aims to inspire others to supersede gendered expectations.
An Unexpected Path
While she acknowledges the demanding nature of the RSAF's work, there is no denying the immense scope of the task and the thrill it brings – a driving force that compels many to join their ranks. Jinping herself confesses to sharing similar motivations when she initially made the decision to enlist. “After college, I was in search of a road less travelled,” she explained.“I wanted a career that was exciting, different and purposeful.”
After Jinping came across the RSAF booth at a scholarship fair where she encountered a pilot recruitment officer and was given the rare opportunity to experience a flight aboard the Piper Warrior aircraft, she recalls, "I was hooked!"
The RSAF remained supportive throughout her scholarship application process, ensuring that she was making informed decisions about her career. They even helped familiarise her with the Air Force culture through visits to RSAF squadrons and engagements with RSAF personnel.
Jinping was awarded the SAF Merit Scholarship (Women) in 2006, an opportunity she utilised to further her studies. She was able to attain her Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology from the University of Nottingham in England and her Master of Arts in Educational Studies from the University of Michigan in the United States.
“The scholarship provided me with the opportunity to study overseas. In doing so, I experienced different cultures and broadened my horizons. This would not have been possible without the scholarship.”
While her passion for flying remained unwavering, she managed to explore her budding interest in psychology during her undergraduate studies which stemmed from her fascination with human behaviour.
“Psychology offers a deeper understanding and insights into how individuals think, feel, and interact with the world around them. I was drawn to the subject because I wanted to explore the factors that influence human behaviours and gain an understanding of the complexities of the mind,” she said. “The potential to make an impact on people’s lives by applying psychological knowledge was also another motivating factor for me.”
While she was unable to fully apply this knowledge at the beginning of her career due to her focus on flight training, Jinping still found that her intrinsic understanding of human and group dynamics was invaluable to her work. But she eventually shifted gears into a direction that was more directly related to her university education. “After about eight years in the Air Force, I had requested a staff tour in the Defence Psychology Department and have been applying my psychology knowledge directly to my job.”
A Career Like No Other
Today, Jinping is the Deputy Director of the Air Force Branch in the Defence Psychology Department (DPD).
“There is no typical day on the job,” she divulged. “Every day is different and filled with its own unique challenges.”
She also fondly recalled her time spent in operations where she was part of the first line of defence for Singapore. “We were on standby operations 24/7, sowhat we did felt important. That was really meaningful for me,” she said.
It was this passion for flying and sense of national duty that presented Jinping with the opportunity to take to the skies as a Mission Commander (MC) at Exercise Cope Tiger. “As MC, I was in charge of 70 aircraft across multiple countries, leading the force to secure the objectives required of the mission.”
If that isn’t impressive enough, Jinping is also a certified pioneer in her field, having held the honour of becoming the first female F-15SG.
Soaring to New Heights: Breaking Boundaries in RSAF
No one can question Jinping’s mettle and varied talents, especially with her dedication to the cause and long – and growing – list of accomplishments. She, however, believes that a significant reason for her success is the culture of the RSAF.
“The work culture of the Air Force is built upon a strong sense of professionalism, which can be seen in the way members interact and communicate with one another regardless of rank and appointment,” she mused. “This professionalism is also reflected in the continuous pursuit of knowledge and professional development in our vocation. We train to the best of our abilities in a race to be always better than before.”
Jinping’s path in the RSAF has been exceptional and unlike any other. Still, she is keenly aware of her unique position within the Air Force and aims to further break down gender barriers and promote inclusivity.
“As a female fighter pilot, I understand the importance of representation and the need for more diverse voices in this field. I hope that my journey will inspire young women to pursue careers they thought were impossible.”
If you do consider joining the RSAF, Jinping advises new recruits to lean into their ambitions – despite any perceived obstacles.
“Pursuing a career as a fighter pilot requires grit and determination and it’s important to embrace your ambitions.” she advised. “It’s also important to believe in yourself and to push yourself to achieve your goals, regardless of societal or gender expectations.”
After all, at the RSAF, the sky is the limit.