India's first woman fighter pilot Avani Chaturvedi conquers the sky

India's first woman fighter pilot Avani Chaturvedi conquers the sky

One never stops learning while flying a fighter aircraft since every take-off and landing brings in a new experience, feels India's first woman fighter pilot Avani Chaturvedi.

In a brief interview to DH on the eve of International Women's Day, Avani said her unit (21 Squadron) didn't distinguish between male and female combat pilots as both were allotted similar tasks and the same workload every week.

More than a fortnight ago, Avani created history as she became the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo when she took off in a MiG-21 Bison at Jamnagar air base. The 30-minute sortie broke a glass ceiling.

Before Avani and two of her batchmates Bhawna Kanth and Mohana Singh became the IAF's first three women fighter pilots, at least one previous IAF Chief and a Vice Chief rejected the idea of women entering the male-dominated sphere of combat flying.

There were two arguments against the fairer sex. First, women were not strong enough to fly a mean machine and secondly, if they get married and became pregnant, the money invested on them for training (nearly Rs 15 crore) would not be recovered.

Policy change

In December 2015, the defence ministry changed its policy to allow women in combat flying on an experimental basis for five years. Within a year, the trio was selected.

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