Sunday, February 24, 2019

Aero India 2019: 5 women parajumpers take a leap from 5,000ft

Bengaluru: Scripting a new chapter in the history of Aero India, five female parajumpers descended from an Mi-17 helicopter flying around 5,000 feet over the Yelahanka Air Force Station and landed in eight minutes.

This is the first time that a team of women parajumpers participated in the show, which observed Women’s Day on Saturday. The team named Air Devils and led by Wing Commander Asha Jyotirmai included Wing Commander Sangita Paulraj, Squadron Leader Seema Sheoran, Squadron Leader Isha Gill and Flying Officer Tuhina Gaur.

“I can still feel butterflies in my stomach,” said Paulraj, adding: “It’s been a memorable experience. As a Bengalurean, I am proud to be flown here in an all-woman team. There are ample opportunities in skydiving and women should not hesitate to enter the field. When I started in 2009, there were apprehensions, but till now I have taken part in about 307 free-fall jumps,” she added.

Jyotirmai said her passion for skydiving drove her to join the Directorate of Air Force Adventure School. She began in 1999 and has 864 jumps to her credit, the highest for any woman skydiver in India. She also holds the record for being the first woman officer to skydive from a Microlight aircraft in 2001. “Gender is no barrier for parachuters. Presence of mind and physical and mental fitness are vital, and women have shown that they can excel at everything,” she added.

Wg Cmdr Vishal Lakesh, school director, said over 30 women officers have been trained as parachuters over the past decade. “Things are changing. In fact, there is rising interest among women officers to take part in IAF’s adventure activities. It’s good that apprehension about jumping from planes is fading.”
24/02/19 Christin Mathew Philip/Times of India
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