Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi has become the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo. The historic feat was achieved on February 19 when the officer flew a MiG-21 Bison aircraft at the Jamnagar airbase in Gujarat.
#TouchTheSkyWithGlory : Fg Offr Avani Chaturvedi became the first Indian Woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo, when on 19 Feb 18 she flew a MiG-21 Bison aircraft in her first solo flight. The photo attached has been taken after her solo sortie. pic.twitter.com/nHWe4sgSmi— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) February 22, 2018
Avani is from the first batch of three women officers, also including Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, who were commissioned as fighter pilots in the force in June 2016.
Avani, who hails from MP, joined the IAF after completing B.Tech in Computer Science from Jaipur. Days before being commissioned in the IAF in 2016, Avani had spoken to The Times of India about how she got interested in flying.
"My hobbies are playing the violin, table tennis and painting. I was inspired by military life of Army officers in my family and had a few hours of flying experience in the flying club of my college. This inspired me to join the IAF. I got selected for the flying stream and subsequently for fighters. I got the golden opportunity to fly two different aircrafts. One of them, very modern and advanced and a stalwart trainer with the best of the instructors," she had said.
Talking about her dreams, Avani had said, "Any air force is defined by its fighters. My dream is to become a good fighter pilot, on whom my seniors can rely when it comes to flying live operations. I want to fly the best fighter aircraft and learn more and more each day."
The Indian Express reported that till about last week, Avani undertook flights in twin-seater training jets accompanied by IAF instructors. Before that, she first got her basic training in flying on a Pilatus aircraft. This was followed by six months of training on the Kiran trainer jet and another year of training on advanced trainer jets.
Even as the country celebrates her achievement, Avani, who is posted at No.23 Squadron (Panthers), has miles to go. She will have to undergo rigorous training for another year before she is deployed for combat missions.
Apart from continuing her training on MiG-21, she will have to undertake air-to-air and air-to-ground combat training. Once she is fully trained for flying during day time, she will have to learn to fly at night too, TOI reported.
She will have to learn tactical flying and manoeuvres after consolidating her general handling of MiG-21s in multiple solo sorties. Then will follow the air-to-air and air-to-ground combat training. Once she becomes “fully ops (operational) by day” on the MiG-21s, she will have to learn night flying during the “moon” and “dark phases” on them.
Her fellow officers Bhawana and Mohana, will follow suit.
Currently, the second batch of women officers commissioned by the IAF is also undergoing training at Bidar, Karnataka on Hawk advanced jet trainers.