This year’s women’s day could not have started on a better note. Three Indian women will script history by becoming the first to fly fighter military jets after undergoing a grueling training session in the upcoming 3 weeks.
Bhawana Kanth, Mohana Singh, and Avani Chaturvedi were commissioned and given the responsibility of flying fighter jets. The appointment was made in less than a year since the Indian government decided to allow women to participate in the fighter stream on an experimental basis.
The performance of the three women pilots has been on par with other fighter stream pilots despite going through “the strenuous and demanding nature of flying”, said BS Dhanoa, the Chief of Air Staff, while addressing the media in a conference.
A senior IAF official, who was involved in training Kanth, Chaturvedi, and Singh stated that they will be flying combat jets starting next month. Currently, the women are commanding advanced Hawk jet trainers.
The official also revealed that the next batch of women pilots has also been selected, who will be flying fighter combat jets. They are currently going through the second stage of fighter pilot training. The Chief of Air Staff further stated that once the three women pilots complete their training, they will be inducted into the fighter stream from December 2019.
All You Need To Know About the IAF Women Pilots
Hailing from Rewa district in Madhya Pradesh, flight Lieutenant Avani Chaturvedi completed her military training from the Hyderabad Airforce Academy. She holds a Bachelor in Technology degree from the Banasthali University in Rajasthan before passing the Indian Air Force examination in 2014. Avani is not the only member of her family to serve in the army as her elder brother is in the Indian army as well. Chaturvedi was commissioned as a fighter pilot in June 2016 and will be inducted in the fighter stream by the end of this year.
Unlike Avani, flight Lieutenant Mohana Singh’s family is well acquainted with the sky. Her father is presently in the IAF and her grandfather was a gunner with the Aviation Research Center. Singh comes from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan and made her air show debut with Auto India 2019. At the show, she deftly flew a Hawk-I in front of the crowd and displayed a number of manoeuvres and quick flypasts.
However, she says that during her first sector solo sortie, she was unable to differentiate between the lights twinkling on the ground and the stars in the sky. It was only the wise words of her instructor “Trust your instruments” that helped her land the jet safely.
It was Bhawana’s childhood dream to fly “like a free bird” that propelled her to reach where she is today. Hailing from Barauni, Bihar, Kanth’s father is an engineer at the Indian Oil while her mother is a homemaker. She says that getting the opportunity to join the IAF was the “best and biggest” that happened to her. She dreams of fighting for India and wants to make her parents proud. Kanth also revealed that after she recovered her aircraft from a solo spin that took place 20,000 ft above the sea level when “doubts started creeping in” served as a major boost to her confidence.