History was created Saturday at the Air Force Academy at Dundigal on the outskirts of Hyderabad, as the IAF formally commissioned its first three women fighter pilots. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar attended the combined graduation ceremony and conferred the President’s Commission on 130 graduating trainees of various branches, including 22 women.
“This is a golden day. This should be an opening for more women for joining combat forces,” he said, adding that “total gender parity” in armed forces will be achieved in coming years.
Avani Chaturvedi, Bhavana Kant and Mohana Singh will go to Bidar in Karnataka for a yearlong stage-III training on Hawk advanced jet trainers, before they get to fly supersonic warplanes.
Hailing from Rajasthan’s Jhunjunu, Singh is carrying forward her family’s legacy. Her father is an IAF officer, while her grandfather was a flight gunner at Aviation Research Centre. Her mother is a schoolteacher. Armed with a BTech (Electronics and Communications) from GIMET, Amritsar, Singh dreamt of flying war planes since childhood.
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A native of Bihar’s Darbhanga, Kant grew up in Refinery Township, Begusarai. Her father is an engineer in IOCL and her mother a homemaker. She completed her BE (Medical Electronics) from BMS College of Engineering, Bengaluru. Kant always dreamt of flying and aspired to join IAF. After clearing stage I of the training, she realised she could fulfil her dream.
Relatives serving in defence forces inspired Avani Chaturvedi, who is from Satna in MP, to first join the flying club in her college and then IAF. Her father is an executive engineer with the state government and she studied BTech (Computer Science) from Banasthali University, Jaipur.