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26-year-old Abhilasha Barak from Haryana becomes Indian Army’s first woman combat aviator

Captain Abhilasha Barak graduated at a ceremony held at the Combat Army Aviation Training School in Nashik. D G of Army Aviation, A K Suri, was the chief guest at the event.

Abhilasha BarakCaptain Abhilasha Barak is an alumnus of The Lawrence School Sanawar, which is the oldest co-educational boarding school in Asia. (Express photo)

Having grown up in military Cantonments across the country, joining the forces was a natural career choice for Captain Abhilasha Barak. On Wednesday, the 26-year-old from Haryana became the first woman combat aviator of the Indian Army.

Captain Abhilasha Barak graduated at a ceremony held at the Combat Army Aviation Training School in Nashik. D G of Army Aviation, A K Suri, was the chief guest at the event.

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“While growing up in military Cantonments, and being surrounded by people in uniform, it always seemed like an ordinary affair. I never realised it (that it was different) until our family moved out of the military life, after my father’s retirement in 2011. The feeling only grew stronger after seeing my elder brother’s passing out parade at Indian Military Academy in 2013. That was the moment I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Captain Barak said in an in-house interview shared recently by the Indian Army.

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Captain Barak is an alumnus of The Lawrence School, Sanawar. She completed her graduation in B Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Delhi Technological University in 2016 and was placed at Deloitte, USA.

In 2018, she was commissioned into the Indian Army from the Officers Training Academy. Chennai. (Express photo)

In 2018, she was commissioned into the Indian Army from the Officers Training Academy, Chennai. During her attachment with Corps of Army Air Defence, she was selected as a Contingent Commander for Presentation of Colours to Army Air Defence by President Ram Nath Kovind.

She attained ‘A’ grading in Army Air Defence Young officers course, 75.70 per cent in Air Traffic Management and Air Laws course and passed the promotional exam, Part B, in her first attempt.

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“After completing my training from Officers Training Academy, Chennai, in 2018, I opted for Army Aviation Corps. As I was filling the form, I knew I was eligible for only ground duty role but I ended up mentioning that I had qualified Pilot Aptitude Battery Test and computerised pilot selection system. Somewhere in my heart, I always knew that the day was not far away when Indian Army would start inducting women as combat pilots,” she said in the interview.

After two years, when the induction of women as pilots was announced, it all came full circle for Captain Barak. “Not many people know this, but in 1987, during Operation Meghdoot, my father was leading a patrolling party from Amar Post to Bana Top Post (earlier Quaid Post). Owing to bad weather, he suffered from Cerebral Odema and was brought back to Amar Post, from where he was evacuated right in time. He owes his life to the Army Aviation Corps and hence, so do I,” according to excerpts of the interview.

First published on: 25-05-2022 at 18:19 IST
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