For the first time in the history of Indian armed forces, the Indian Air Force on Saturday formally commissioned three women fighter pilots along with flight cadets of various branches at a combined graduation parade at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal.
Scripting history are Flight cadets Avani Chaturvedi of Madhya Pradesh, Mohana Singh of Rajasthan and Bhawana Kanth of Bihar.
Bhawana from Darbhanga in Bihar, according to The Hindu likes outdoor games, rafting and rappelling.
“It was my dream to fly like a free bird since my childhood which inspired me to join Indian Air Force,” she says.
She added, “After clearing my Stage I training, I got golden opportunity to opt for fighter stream, the best and the biggest thing that has happened to me and the best part is, it is just the beginning. It is my aim to become a good fighter pilot and fight for the nation and make my parents proud.”
Avani Chaturvedi, from Satna in Madhya Pradesh, said that she drew inspiration from the life of army officers in her family.
Avani said that she learnt about just how significance of being a fighter pilot only on the first day of the training.
Recounting her experience she said that she was rolling for take-off when she noticed a warning on the canopy warning audio causing some confusion, prompting her to abort.
She said, “That day I realized how the decision of a split second can get the situation under control or out of control. Had I delayed my actions that day of aborting take-off or got airborne with the canopy open, the results could have been catastrophic.”
For Mohana Singh, joining the Indian Air Force for flying was a dream instilled by parents and grandparents. Her father is with the IAF and grandfather too continues to serve as a flight gunner in the Aviation Research Centre.
Mohana said, “I recalled what my Instructor had taught me, ‘No unnecessary head movements, switch over to Instruments, Trust your Instruments’. These words echoed in my head, I disregarded the visual indications and continued descent to a lower altitude relying totally on instruments. Once visual with the ground, I got oriented and recovered the aircraft safely.”
According to a Times of India report, these women officers will now be posted to either the Bidar or Kalaikunda airbase to undertake “transitional” fighter training on the Hawks, which includes learning intensive combat manoeuvres and armament firing spread over a year. This primarily to ensure the rookie pilots can handle highly-unforgiving old fighters like MiG-21s or relatively new multi-role ones like Sukhoi-30MKIs and Mirage-2000s.