Meet Shivangi, 24, first woman pilot of Indian Navy

Lt Shivangi

The tides are turning for Indian women as Sub Lieutenant Shivangi of the Indian Navy gets set to become its first woman pilot.

Changing gender stereotypes and breaking glass ceilings in the sky, the 24-year-old will join naval operations in Kochi on December 2. “It’s difficult to express how I feel at the moment. While it’s a dream come true, it’s also a great responsibility as we are representing what so many women want to do but can’t,” she told DH.

Shivangi was inducted into Indian Navy as SSC (pilot) as part of 27 NOC course in the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala. She was commissioned last June. The young officer grew up in Muzzafarpur, Bihar. She went to DAV Public School there and later on to Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology. “I come from a civilian background,” she says. “My father is the principal of a government school and my mother is a homemaker, which is why I feel anyone can achieve what I have. My parents have always been very supportive especially as I am someone in the family who is not doing something mainstream.”

The dream to touch the sky, she says, happened the day when as a young girl, she saw a chopper land near her house. “The moment I saw the pilot in it, I knew I wanted to be one too.” Shivangi’s flying training was in three phases -- basic flying training of six months with IAF followed by Dornier flying for getting ‘wings’ as a qualified pilot.

It is after six months of rigorous training in the Naval Academy that she started her flying training on Pilatus (PC7) aircraft at Air Force Academy (AFA), Dundigal.

After the completion of ab-initio training in AFA, she completed 07 Dornier Conversion Course from Dornier Training Squadron INAS 550 in Kochi.

As the big day nears, she says gender is immaterial and skills are all that matters. “In the initial stages of our training, we are told that the aircraft does not know whether it’s a man or woman who is flying it. You need to have the skills to fly. If there is any barrier, it is all in the mind.”

“I come from an ordinary background. New horizons opened up when I joined the Navy. Which other job is as good as this? You are always on top of the world. You wake up, you fly, you come back. It’s like a dream.”

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