New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) posted a photo of Flying Officer Bhawana Kanth getting ready for a sortie in a MiG 21 fighter aircraft on Sunday. The photo went viral within a few minutes and saluting her, people posted comments such as - 'real heroes', 'Jai Hind' and 'I love IAF' on Instagram.
Kanth is only the second woman combat pilot to fly solo in a fighter aircraft after Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi. The IAF officer achieved the feat when she flew in a MiG 21 Bison aircraft from Ambala Air Force Station at around 2 pm on March 16, 2018.
Flying Officers Kanth, Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh are the first women fighter pilots in the IAF. They were commissioned into the IAF in July 2016, less than a year after the fighter stream was opened for women on an experimental basis.
It was in October 2015 that the government had taken the decision to open the fighter stream for women in IAF. And in October 2017, history was created when the first three women fighter pilots of the country were given the green signal to fly military jets after completing a strenuous training in the next three weeks.
Earlier, on March 8, 2018, on International Women’s Day, the IAF had released a video saluting the women in service. “Every woman inspires, nurtures and supports, but some wear overalls and combats boots as well,” they had said in the video, which had featured Chaturvedi, Kanth and Singh.
The video also showed women IAF personnel attending classes at fighter training wing along with their male counterparts and handling ground operations of the Indian Air Force.
#SilverJubileeOfWomenInIAF : Indian Air Force salutes the Strength and Spirit of the Brave Women on International Women’s Day 2018.
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) March 8, 2018
The video had come days after Chaturvedi had created history by becoming the first Indian woman fighter pilot to fly a fighter aircraft. On February 21, 2018, she had flown a MiG-21 Bison in her first solo flight in Jamnagar, Gujarat. MiG-21 Bison has the highest landing and take-off speed in the world - 340 km/ph.