NEW DELHI: Growing up in a small town named Deolond near Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, Avani Chaturvedi never in her wildest dreams imagined she would one day become the first-ever Indian woman to break the sound barrier with resounding sonic booms in a supersonic fighter all alone.
But Avani, who likes to play the violin and painting, has done precisely that to create history. Among the first three women fighter pilots being trained by the IAF, shattering the deep-rooted combat-exclusion policy for their gender in the Indian armed forces, Avani flew a 30-minute solo sortie in a MiG-21 at the Jamnagar airbase on Monday afternoon.
“My heartiest congratulations to Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi for successfully clearing her first solo sortie on a MiG-21 ‘Bison’ fighter. The IAF has always taken a lead in providing an equal platform to women officers. It’s a red letter day for the country,” said Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, speaking to TOI on Wednesday.
Avani, whose father is an executive engineer in the MP government, however, is too busy with her gruelling fighting training regime. But she had earlier said, “Any air force is defined by its fighters. My dream is to become a good fighter pilot, on whom my seniors can rely when it comes to flying live operations. I want to fly the best fighter aircraft and learn more and more each day.”
That she will certainly have to do. As will, her colleagues, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, who like her, will go for solo fighter sorties only after undertaking over a dozen “dual-check” sorties in twin-seat MiG-21 Type 69 trainers with qualified fighter instructors to learn the basics of flying combat jets.