(G.N.S) Dt. 19
Flying officer Bhawana Kanth, second woman pilot of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to fly solo in a fighter jet, touching the sky was never a definable limit. Her aim was always to conquer it. Kanth scripted history on Friday as she flew the supersonic jet MiG-21 Bison from the Ambala Air Force Station. For her father, Tej Narain, the 25-yearold’s sortie was also his dream come true.
An electrical engineer at the Mathura Refinery, Narain was also selected for the IAF in his youth but could not join because of family pressures. “She has soared beyond my dreams. I am immensely happy for her achievement,” he said.
Narain hails from Baur village of Bihar’s Darbhanga district and Kanth was brought up in the Refinery Township in Begusarai district. The only one from her village to have joined the defence services, Kanth today is an icon for the children there.
“On Friday, after the solo flight, she called us on the phone and expressed her happiness. She had been preparing for this flight a long time and finally did it. Now, she will probably have to undertake air-toair and air-to-ground combat training. Day-combat training will eventually make way to night-combat drill,” added Narain.
At 340 kmph, the ‘Bison’ that Kanth flew has virtually the highest landing and takeoff speed. In February this year, flying officer Avani Chaturvedi too made history by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo. Kanth is currently posted with No.3 Squadron of the IAF in Ambala.
Along with Mohana Singh, Kanth and Chaturvedi are the three women inducted in the first batch of IAF’s women fighter pilots on June 18, 2016. The inclusion came after a decision was taken by the armed force to open combat role for women on an “experimental basis” for five years initially.
“No one should underestimate a girl child. I always motivated my daughter to follow her dreams,” added Narain, father of three children, including two daughters.
Recalling Kanth’s school and college days, the proud father added, “She was excellent in studies and scored 92% in class X and 85% in her intermediate exams. She studied at the Barauni Refinery DAV Public School. She later completed a bachelor of engineering (BE) degree in medical electronics from the BMS College in Bengaluru.”
(G.N.S) Dt. 19