First three women Air Force fighter pilots to be commissioned in December
In a historic event, for the first time women combat pilots were inducted in the Indian Air Force on Saturday with defence minister Manohar Parrikar commissioning Mohana Singh, Bhawana Kanth and Avani Chaturvedi.
The trio’s commissioning at an elaborate Combined Graduation Parade ceremony at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal, which was witnessed as many as 93 pilots and seven navigators, among others, being awarded their wings, was met with great applause.
Parrikar described the trio’s induction as a “red letter day” and said his ministry was working towards bringing about “total gender parity” in the armed forces.
Later, they said they considered themselves “lucky” at being the first women fighter pilots in the IAF. “We feel quite fortunate at being the first ones. Anybody could have got the opportunity, but we have got it. We are very happy,” said Bhawana Kanth.
For Bhawana, whose father is an engineer at Indian Oil NSE -0.40 % .
No stranger to flying, Avani, daughter of an executive engineer father and homemaker
mother, already had flying hours to her credit at the college flying club. This, she said, inspired her to join the IAF which she describes as a “golden opportunity”.
With a father presently serving in IAF and grandfather who was a flight gunner in the Aviation Research Centre, it came as no surprise that Mohana Singh, from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan, joined the IAF and opted for the fighter stream.