23 Jun 2018
MP woman, a tea-seller's daughter, to join IAF as fighter-pilot
Written byPallabi Chatterjee
On June 7, when the results of Indian Air Force (IAF) were declared, there was one name that stood out: Aanchal Gangwal.
It was simply because 24-year-old Aanchal's father runs a tea-stall at a bus-stand.
But she never let that come in the way of her dream to fly. Today, she's officially a fighter pilot with the force.
Read her story of determination and grit.
'I always knew I had it in me'
Hailing from Neemuch in Madhya Pradesh, Aanchal has been selected in IAF's flying branch.
Among the five options, ground-staff, helicopter, chopper, fighter aircraft and transport carrier, Aanchal has her eyes set for fighter planes.
"I always knew I had it in me to make it," she said.
She's now packing her bags to go to Air Force Academy in Dundigul, 43kms from Hyderabad.
Indian Army's rescue efforts in 2013 gave Aanchal dreams
On June 30, she would reach there and her training starts from July 2.
So, what motivated her to nail the tough exam?
In 2013, when flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides claimed several lives in Uttarakhand, Aanchal, a class-XII student then, observed how the Indian Army carried out their rescue operations.
"I was impressed by them and decided to join the forces," she said.
She was among 22 selected by beating 6L applicants
Aanchal made it to top 22 selected from the country, by beating 6L applicants that had appeared this year.
However, it was a painful journey for her to come this far.
She had appeared for the interview five times earlier and cracked it the sixth time. IAF interviews are different from normal ones.
They run for five days and include screening, psychological-test and ground-test.
CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan felicitated her on Tuesday
Ever since the results were declared, the student of Metro H S School has been inundated with congratulatory messages and felicitations.
On Tuesday, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan felicitated her in Jahanuma Palace near his house.
WCD minister Archana Chitnis also paid her a visit recently.
Her state is proud; after all, she's the only MP woman, after Avani Chaturvedi, to make it to IAF.
In school, she dabbled in sports, academics
In her school, everyone is elated but not surprised. She always showed potential.
A former school-captain and a class topper, she went to Vikram University in Ujjain, after winning a scholarship.
Unsurprisingly, the 5 foot 7 inch woman also represented her school in basketball tournaments and 400m race events.
While in college, she cleared the police sub-inspector's exam, but left the grueling training midway.
Her father claims now everyone knows him because of Aanchal
She needed time to prepare for her dream job: IAF pilot. Luckily, at the same time, she got through VYAPAM's labor inspector exam.
"Here the schedule was easier and I got chance to prepare," Aanchal said.
She was working in Mandsaur till IAF results came out.
Meanwhile, her father Suresh, beaming with joy, said, "Everyone in the area now knows about my Namdev tea-stall."