Written byGogona Saikia
Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi has made history by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo.
Her first sortie was in a MiG-21 at the IAF's Jamnagar base.
She still has two more years of training before being deployed as a fully-operational pilot.
In June'16, Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh became the first women to be commissioned in the IAF in combat roles.
Chaturvedi, born in Satna of MP, was the daughter of a government official and a homemaker. She did a B.Tech in Computer Science from Banasthali University, Jaipur
Joining the flying club in college inspired her to try for the IAF.
She cracked the exam and underwent one-year training at the Hyderabad Air Force Academy.
After successful completion, she was formally commissioned in 2016.
Chaturvedi's first sortie at the Jamnagar base in a super-sonic MiG-21 Bison fighter, the IAF's oldest fighter and considered a difficult aircraft to handle, lasted for about 30 minutes.
According to a senior flyer, pilots have to undergo fixed drills in their first sortie, not carry out complicated manoeuvres.
After training, Chaturvedi will be deployed with the 23 "Panthers" Squadron.
Chaturvedi will have to keep practising on the fighter for the next six months, before learning to use the aircraft in war and fight while flying in the day as well as in the night.
The entire training is expected to take at least another two years.
After the Chaturvedi-Kanth-Singh trio, two more women, Pratibha and Shivangi Singh, have been inducted into the IAF.
The last few years have seen several milestones for women in the forces. In 2010, the army and IAF granted permanent commission to women; the navy followed in 2016.
In March'17, Tanushree Pareek became the BSF's first woman field officer. In September, the army decided to induct women in military police.
However, women are still excluded from many benefits that men get.
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