2 IAF women fly high,break altitude barrier

Their,and other women officers’,heroics notwithstanding,the Air Force is still reluctant to let women pilots fly its fighter aircraft.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:January 25, 2012 12:03 am

Two officers of the Indian Air Force have created history by becoming the first woman pilots to land their aircraft on two of the world’s most difficult runways — Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip on the Sino-Indian border,which is at an altitude of 16,200 feet,and the 10,600-feet-from-sea level Leh airfield.

Squadron Leaders Teji Uppal and Veena Saharan performed the feat last month,Air Force officials said on Tuesday.

Uppal,who has piloted aircraft to the advanced landing grounds of Mechuka and Vijaynagar in the Northeast,landed her An-32 at the strategic Daulat Beg Oldie airstrip in Ladakh.

Saharan landed an IL-76 military transport aircraft,the largest in the Air Force’s fleet,at the Leh airfield. Sources said Saharan is now regularly flying independent missions in the sector.

Though the Air Force encouraged women aviators to undertake important flying missions,fixed-wing aircraft operating from these two strategic airfields were always piloted by men. That was until Uppal and Saharan touched down.

Their,and other women officers’,heroics notwithstanding,the Air Force is still reluctant to let women pilots fly its fighter aircraft.

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