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Air Force Day special: Meet the ladies who helped IAF shrug its sexist fears

With a desire to do “something different”, India’s first three women fighter pilots, Mohana Singh Jiterwal, Bhawana Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi will create history when they will fly the military aircrafts next month.


By   |  Updated On : October 08, 2017 10:06 AM
Air Force Day special: Meet the ladies who helped IAF shrug its sexist fears (PTI)

Air Force Day special: Meet the ladies who helped IAF shrug its sexist fears (PTI)

New Delhi :  

With a desire to do “something different”, India’s first three women fighter pilots, Mohana Singh Jiterwal, Bhawana Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi will create history when they will fly the military aircrafts next month.

After being inducted into the Indian Air Force fighter squadron last year, the lady fighter pilots went through rigorous training at Hakimpet Air Force base.

"You will be glad to know that their performance has been on par with other pilots despite the strenuous and demanding nature of flying," Chief of Air Staff BS Dhanoa said addressing a press conference.

In 2014, then IAF chief Arup Raha had said, "women by nature are not physically suited for flying fighter planes for long hours, especially when they are pregnant or have other health problems."

In a traditionally male-dominated world, Mohana, Avani and Bhawana broke all the “mentality barriers” and shown the world that “there is nothing women can’t do.”

Paving way for more women into combat roles in one of the world’s biggest militaries, the ladies became an inspiration and epitome of bravery.

As Indian Air Force celebrates its 85th anniversary (2nd after shrugging its sexist fears about female fighter pilots), let’s have a look at the ladies who changed the way the world looks at women.

Also Read | Why is Indian Air Force Day celebrated on 8 October

Mohana Singh Jiterwal: She comes from the land where being a “Fauji” is given more priority than being anything else. Coming from a small village Khatehpura in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan, Mohana boasts of a grandfather (Ladu Ram Jat) who martyred in in 1948 Indo-Pak War and won Vira Chakra Award.

VC Ladu Ram Jat served Indian Air Force as flight gunner in the Aviation Research Centre. Mohana’s father Pratap Singh is also working in IAF as Warrant Officer.

Mohana graduated in electronics and communication engineering with 83.7 per cent marks from Global Institute of Management and Emerging Technologies, Amritsar.

Bhawana Kanth: She hails from Bihar Darbhanga and her father is an officer in the Indian Oil Corporation. Though, Bhawana always wanted to fly planes but became an engineer first.

After preparing for engineering entrance in Kota, Rajasthan, she pursued her engineering in Medical Electronics stream from BMS College of Engineering in Bengaluru.

Bhawana was a bright student and got campus placement in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). But the destiny had something else in the store for her, and she joined IAF after qualifying Short Service Commission examination.

She always wanted to be a pilot but had never thought about being a fighter pilot, probably because there was no option available earlier. But when the IAF shrugged its sexist fears, Bhawana became one of the first three women who volunteered to rule skies.

Avani Chaturvedi: The “Bulbul” of Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa district always wanted to fly and fly high. She wanted to become like Astronaut Kalpana Chawla. Avani’s father Dinkar Chaturvedi is an engineer and mother Savita is a housewife.

Avani’s brother, who is in the Army, inspired her to achieve her dreams. And to conquer skies, she joined the Flying Club in her college.

First Published: Sunday, October 08, 2017 09:25 AM


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