Flying Officers Pratibha and Shivangi Singh were commissioned in the Fighter Stream of Flying Branch of the Indian Air Force today. With this, the number of women fighter pilots in Indian Air Force has gone up to five.
These two officers were among the 15 women officers who joined the elite cadre of Air Force Officers at the Combined Graduation Parade of Pilots and Ground Duty Officers held at Air Force Academy (AFA), Dundigal near Hyderabad today.
The event marked the momentous occasion of passing out of 105 Flight Cadets as Flying Officers of the Indian Air Force. The occasion also marked the passing out of 200th Pilot’s course of Indian Air Force officers, a long way forward since the humble beginning of the training of Indian trainees at Royal Air Force College, Cranwell in Oct 1931.
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had recently said that India’s first three women fighter pilots — Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh – will fly the MIG-21 Bison fighter planes to begin with.
The trio were commissioned as Flying Officers in July 2016 after the Fighter Stream was opened for women on an experimental basis and are likely to fly fighter jets soon after completing a strenuous training programme. These three women fighter pilots are likely to be posted together once they start flying fighter jets.
Flying Officers Pratibha and Shivangi Singh
The Combined Graduation Parade marks the culmination of rigorous training schedule of one year and heralds the entry of another generation of officers in the Indian Air Force.
The Flight Cadets undergo professional and advanced training at various institutions besides Air Force Academy, viz., Air Force Stations Hakimpet, Begumpet, Yelahanka, and Air Force Administrative College (Coimbatore) as per their specialisation and finally pass-out together from the portals of the majestic “Sekhon” Block of Air Force Academy.
The Parade, in its full grandeur marked with impeccably turned-out cadets and their perfectly synchronized drill movements demonstrating conviction and commitment, was witnessed by a large gathering of military and civil dignitaries along with proud family members and friends of the graduating Flight Cadets.
Congratulating the passing-out cadets, the Chief of the Naval Staff said, “It is a matter of great honour to review the Combined Graduation Parade of flight cadets and witness these fine men and women joining the Indian Air Force as future Military leaders and Aviators”.
He emphasised in his address, the importance of core values of a military leader i.e. integrity, courage, honesty, and selfless service to the nation. He reminded that there can be nothing more satisfying than participating in the defence of one’s nation. He exhorted the young officers to carry forward the espoused legacy and the core values of Indian Air Force namely, ‘Mission, Integrity and Excellence’, in every walk of life. The newly commissioned officers were administered oath by the Commandant of the Academy.
The grand Graduation Parade culminated with a well synchronized display by the PC-7 MK II (the aircraft currently used in AFA to train greenhorn pilots), Kiran, Hawk aircraft and the Sarang Helicopter team and breathtaking aerobatics by the full-member Suryakiran Formation Aerobatic team, enthralling the audience.