Republic Day Flypast: Bhawana Kanth To Be IAF’s 1st Woman Fighter Pilot

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A March 2018 photograph of Bhawana Kanth who became the 2nd IAF woman pilot to fly a solo sortie in a MiG-21 Bison. Source: Livefist/Twitter

Flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth will be a part of the Republic Day parade this year to become the first woman fighter pilot to take part in Republic Day ceremonial event on January 26, officials said on Monday.

A Republic Day First

The Hindustan Times reported that Flight Lieutenant Kanth will be a part of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) tableau that will showcase mock-ups of the light combat aircraft, light combat helicopter and the Sukhoi-30 fighter plane. She is currently posted at an airbase in Rajasthan where she flies the MiG-21 Bison fighter plane.

Kanth is also one of the first women fighter pilots in the IAF. She, along with Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh, was inducted into the IAF as the first women fighter pilots in 2016. Ten women have been commissioned as fighter pilots after an experimental scheme for their induction into the IAF’s combat stream was introduced in 2015, a watershed in the air force’s history.

Kanth, who belongs to Darbhanga in Bihar, was born and brought up in the Refinery Township, Begusarai, where her father worked as an engineer in IOCL. She did her schooling from Barauni Refinery DAV Public School and completed her bachelor of engineering in medical electronics from BMS College of Engineering in Bengaluru.

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She loves playing badminton, volleyball and adventure sports and is also interested in photography, cooking, swimming and travelling. After clearing Stage I training, she got the opportunity to opt for the fighter stream.

Flight Lieutenant Kanth had said after her induction in the IAF, while recalling her first experience of the spin solo on fighter aircraft Kiran, that as she entered the aircraft into a spin and recovered it all by itself at 20,000 feet, doubt started creeping into her mind as to what if the aircraft didn’t recover.

“I told myself that if I don’t do it now, I will always be afraid of it. I spun the aircraft and to my surprise, the spin was more vicious or so it seemed. But the fighter pilot in me took over and I told myself come what may I will recover. And the aircraft recovered from spin and so did my confidence,” she had said.

Rafale To Feature in Republic Day Fly-past

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Rafale at Ambala. Source: IAF

The Indian Air Force informed that the newly inducted Rafale fighter aircraft will feature in the Republic Day parade on January 26 and culminate the fly-past by carrying out the ‘Vertical Charlie’ formation, officials said on Monday.

In the ‘Vertical Charlie’ formation, the aircraft flies at low altitude, pulls up vertically and conducts rolls before stabilising at higher altitude. “The Republic Day fly-past will culminate with a single Rafale aircraft carrying out a ‘Vertical Charlie’ formation,” said Wing Commander Indranil Nandi.

The Republic Day will be highlighted by a march past by different branches of the military as well as a display of arms and missiles. A total of 38 IAF aircraft and four planes of the Indian Army will participate in the Republic Day fly-past on January 26, he said.

Meanwhile, the Indian Army will deploy the first batch of women helicopter pilots by 2022 after their induction into the Aviation Corps of the Indian Army. Army chief General MM Naravane in a recent press conference on the eve of the Army Day said, “One month ago, orders were passed and the proposal has been initiated.”

Till now, the women officers in the Army were serving in the Air Traffic Control and ground duties. “The batch of officers to begin will join the next course starting from July,” the Army Chief said.


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