Avani Chaturvedi Becomes First Ever Indian Woman To Fly Supersonic Fighter MiG-21 Solo

| February 22 , 2018 , 09:03 IST

Hailing from Madhya Pradesh, Avani Chaturvedi has become the first-ever Indian woman to fly solo in a supersonic fighter as flew a 20-minute solo sortie in a MiG-21 'Bison' fighter at the Jamnagar airbase, media reported on Wednesday.

One of the first 3 women fighter pilots to be trained by the Indian Air Force, Avani made history on Monday afternoon after she successfully flew the MiG-21 Bison.

Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, speaking to TOI, commended Avani for her successful first solo sortie on the MiG-21.

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“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.

In an earlier statement, Avani had expressed her dream of becoming a good fighter pilot ready for live operations.

"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," Avani had said.

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Avani had been commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF after her basic training in June 2016 but still has more than a year before she can be deployed for live combat missions with the 23 “Panthers” Squadron. After the first solo sortie, Avani still has to learn tactical flying and manoeuvres consolidating her handling of the MiG-21s in multiple solo sorties, and then also learn night flying in the MiG-21.

The highly-demanding and aging MiG-21 Bisons have the highest landing and take-off speeds in the world, with initial speeds of 340kmph. The other two women IAF combat trainees Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh will be attempting their solo fighter sorties only after completing more than a dozen “dual-check” sorties in twin-seat MiG-21 Type 69 trainers with qualified fighter instructors.

Currently, women are only allowed in combat roles in the Indian Air Force, and not in the Navy or the Army. Internationally, only selected countries have allowed women to take on the role of fighter pilots, such as Britain, the United States, Israel and Pakistan.