Hyderabad: History was made today when the first three women fighter pilots of the Indian Air Force got their their stripes and wings at the Combined Graduation Parade at Air Force Academy at Dundigal on the outskirts of the twin cities.
The vanguards of the IAF roared into the sky and painted the sky with the Tricolor as India joined the select few nations in the world that have women fighter pilots in the Air Force. The women fighter pilots who were today inducted into the Air Force and conferred with the President’s Commission are Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi, Flying Officer Bhawana Kanth and Flying Officer Mohana Singh.
India’s Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar, who was the chief guest, reviewed the Combined Graduation Parade. He was earlier received by Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha.
At today’s passing out ceremony, 130 Flight Cadets, including 22 women trainees were commissioned as Flying Officers. It was also a proud moment for 93 young pilots and seven navigators who earned their coveted ‘Wings and Brevets’, along with nine officers of Navy and one officer of Coast Guard.
The Minister of Defence gave away awards to the Flying officers who had excelled in their training. Flying Officer Adarsh Hooda from the Flying branch was awarded President’s Plaque and the Chief of the Air Staff ‘Sword of Honour’ for standing first in Overall Merit in the Pilot Course. Flying Officer Narendra Kushwaha and Flying Officer Sahil Yadav were awarded President’s Plaque for being first in overall merit in Navigation and Ground Duty branches respectively.
The guests, including the proud parents of the graduating trainees and various military and civilian dignitaries, were delighted to witness the impressive Parade by the graduating trainees and were left spellbound by the spectacular movements of the Air Warriors Drill Team, and the ‘NishanToli’ marching-past with the ‘President’s Colours’ of the Academy. They also witnessed the breath-taking aerobatics by the highly experienced and skilled pilots of SU-30, ‘Sarang’ the Helicopter Aerobatics Team, and PC 7 MK-II of the IAF. The brave acts of Sky Divers of the ‘Akash Ganga’ Team also enthralled the audience.
The Graduation Parade culminated with the newly Commissioned Officers marching-out in slow march to the poignant notes of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ acknowledging the first salute given to them by their immediate juniors. They saluted the Reviewing Officer and crossed through the portals of their Alma-mater with a resolute aim to take-on their future assignments and challenges unstintingly to “Touch the Sky with Glory”live up to the core values of the IAF, “Mission, Integrity and Excellence” .
Addressing the Parade, the Defence Minister complimented the newly Commissioned ‘Flying Officers’ for the exceptional standard of their parade. Congratulating the passing-out cadets the Minister said, “It is a matter of great honour to review the Combined Graduation Parade and to welcome the fine men and women into the Indian Air Force as Military leaders”. Keeping in view the changing geo-political and strategic environment and varied security challenges faced by India, he urged the young officers to give their best, as future leaders of the IAF, and take it to next higher level of performance by dynamically adapting to the newer environment. While bringing out that our country is going through a transformational shift to continuously modernise its forces, he exhorted them to widen their horizon and keep pace with the swiftly advancing technology to exploit the true potential of the Aerospace Power.