Sky is the limit

Sky is the limit

Girls in aviation

When I walked as the only air wing cadet from Delhi at Rajpath during the Republic Day parade this year, I felt I have lived my dream. The accolades that I received from my family and my entire neighbourhood after this was overwhelming. Nobody in my family has achieved something like this,” said 19-year-old Shweta Upadhyay.

Currently pursuing her graduation in BA (Programme) from Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University (DU), Upadhyay is training under National Cadet Corps Air Wing (NCC). She hails from a simple family residing in Uttam Nagar of west Delhi and says she is the only member of her family who is interested in aviation.

She hopes to getting employed as the ground duty officer in Indian Air Force. While she is preparing for IAF examinations, being a part of the Republic Day Camp (RDC) has been her biggest achievement till date.

“At RDC, cadets from all three wings — army, navy and air force participate. The practice for the parade begins in October. We used to wake up at 4 am dress up in our uniforms, leave for the ground for drills. The rifle drill, where we had to take rounds in the ground with that 4.5 kilo rifle in one hand in the cold weather, was the most difficult,” recalled Upadhyay.

Around 400 aspiring girls in aviation, like Upadhyay, had gathered at the recently held ‘Girls in Aviation Day’ in the capital, organised by The India Chapter of Women in Aviation International (WAI).

The initiative was aimed at highlighting the opportunities aviation sector has for women.

According to Radha Bhatia, chairperson Bird Worldwide Flight Services and president WAI (India Chapter), young and aspiring girls have limited information about career prospects in aviation.

“We see women in a few segments like cabin crew or steward. There are so many other segments like baggage handling, specialised medical doctors, pre and post flight checks and so on. Only one per cent women employees are a part of these segments,” Bhatia told Metrolife.

Twenty-year-old Nimisha Dayal felt proud to mention that she is the only girl from her college, Shaheed Bhagat Singh College (DU), to be a part of NCC.

“People in my family work for both government and private jobs, but I personally wanted to do something different. When I joined NCC, I also got the opportunity to meet fighter pilots Bhawana Kath, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh. After that, I knew that I wanted to follow their footsteps,” said Dayal. 

While short height disqualifies Dayal for applying for the post of a fighter, she stays determined to join as ground duty officer.

From becoming physically fit and strong to developing a confident personality, Dayal said that she has come a long way in the past three years of her training at NCC.

“I have changed a lot as compared to how I used to be in school. Now I feel more confident in talking to people. Moreover, it feels different to be pointed out as the only girl in a crowd to join the air wing of NCC. The experience has a spark to it,” expressed Dayal.

As the first generation of women entering aviation, these girls are fighting all odds to establish a career in the industry.

“Aviation is all about excitement,” said Kajal Gera, 21, who completed her graduation in BA (Programme) from School of Open Learning. Currently preparing for Central Airmen Selection Board (CASB) exams, Gera looks forward to becoming a pilot.

“I have seen that in Indian Air Force, there are mostly males but I’m not afraid of that. If pilots like Kath, Chaturvedi and Singh can do it then I can too,” she said adding that the day she takes her first flight, her dream of touching the sky will come true.

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