Flying officer Avani Chaturvedi has registered her name in history as she became the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft. “Chaturvedi became the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo when she flew a MiG-21 bison in her first solo flight,” an Indian Air Force (IAF) official was quoted by PTI.
Avani, a BTech in computer science, undertook the 30-minute solo sortie from IAF’s Jamnagar base on Monday, February, 19. Three women pilots -- Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, had undergone strenuous training programme to fly fighter jets. They were commissioned as flying officers in July 2016, less than a year after the government decided to open the fighter stream for women. The IAF has already selected the next batch of three women trainee pilots for the fighter stream.
Reportedly, they went for solo fighter sorties only after undertaking over a dozen “dual-check” sorties in twin-seat MiG-21 Type 69 with qualified fighter instructors to learn the basics of flying combat jets. The highly-demanding and ageing MiG-21 “Bisons” have virtually the highest landing and take-off speed in the world at 340 kmph, and handling them is not an easy task. Avani, whose father is an executive engineer in the MP government, grew up in a small town named Deolond near Rewa in Madhya Pradesh and never imagined in her wildest dreams that one day she would become the first-ever Indian woman to break the barrier.
Avani, who likes to paint and play the violin as per a TOI report, had earlier said to reporters, “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.”
Avani will have to now learn tactical flying and manoeuvre after consolidating her general handling of MiG-21s and once she becomes fully operational by day, she will have to learn night flying during the “moon” and “dark phases”.