New Delhi, June 18: It is a red-letter day in the history of the Indian Air Force. Flying cadets Bhawana Kath, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi have been commissioned today as the first women fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force.
Having cleared the first stage of training, each one of them have 150 hours of flying experience. After getting inducted, they will be training for six months on the Advanced Jet Fighter- the British-built Hawk. Following this, they will be assigned fighter and their squadrons.
Incidentally, the rigorous training they underwent is irrespective of their gender. Air Chief Arup Raha said that the women did not get any preference and will be assigned as per requirements of the force.
All in their mid-twenties, these women already know what danger is. For instance, Avani Chaturvedi had to abort her second solo flight sortie just minutes before take-off near the first marker. She said, " I heard the Canopy Warning Audio. Althoug I was confused, I decided to abort the flight and brought the aircraft to a halt safely on the runway."
"It is a decision of split seconds. Had I delayed aborting the take-off or got air borne with the open canopy, it would've been catastrophic," she added.
Flying cadet Bhawana Kant faced a similar circumstance. While doing her first solo spin and recovery manoeuvre, doubt started creeping into her on what if the aircraft did not respond. Flying at 20,000 feet, she nonetheless went for the spin. "It was more vicious. the fighter pilot in me took over. The recovery action drilled "into us" took over. The aircraft "recovered from spin and so did my confidence."
Mohana Singh faced bad weather with thunder and lightening. The visual cues went against the instrumental cues and that is when she had to decide that she should depend on the instruments. "No unnecessary head movement, switch over to instruments," is what she was taught.