Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Two IAF women pilots break glass ceiling, script history at R-Day parade

New Delhi: Two IAF women officers broke the glass ceiling on Tuesday by becoming the first women pilots to participate in the Republic Day parade — one at Rajpath and the other over Rajpath.

While Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth, 28, became the first woman fighter pilot to take part in the R-Day parade as she was part of an IAF tableau that showcased mock-ups of an light combat aircraft, light combat helicopter and a Sukhoi-30 fighter plane, Flight Lieutenant Swati Rathore got the honour to be the first woman to be part of the flypast over Rajpath as she flew a Mi-17 V5 helicopter in a formation of four choppers.

Currently posted at an airbase in Rajasthan, Ft Lt Bhawana Kanth flies MiG-21 Bison fighter jets, the same aircraft that was used by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman to chase and bring down an F-16 of Pakistan during the India-Pakistan face-off in 2019. Along with Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh, Kanth was inducted into the IAF as the first woman fighter pilot in 2016. On May 22, 2019, Ft Lt Kanth became one of the first three women fighter pilots to qualify for day-time combat missions on a fighter aircraft.

26/01/21 Suendra Singh/Times of India

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