First Woman Solo Pilot Of IAF – Flt Lt Harita Kaur Deol

Hello Defence Lovers, The women world over, particularly in non-European countries, in the last several decades have got out of the  safe and warm cocoon  set  by the conservative  societies and proved their worth.  Conservative communities traditionally discouraged women to move freely in the society  and it took a while for the women to climb the social  ladder and now they occupy important positions in government and private companies. As for Indian  military, Navy and Air Force, the scenario changed long ago and there are  numerous women being recruited each year. Unlike white collar jobs, work in the military services needs better health, agility, foresight and vision, not to speak of guts. Born in 1972, Flight Lt. Harita Kaur Deol, was a pilot with the Indian Air Force. She was the first woman pilot to fly solo in the Indian Air Force. Earlier, woman used to company their male counterparts while airborne. Her first solo flight was on 2 September 1994 in an Avro HS-748, when she was 22 years old.

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  • After taking off into the sky she played hide and seek with the moving mystic clouds at an altitude of 10,000 feet and made history on that day and brought in laurels for the entire women’s world, thus proving that women are equally competent and courageous as  men are.
  • Mind  you as mentioned before, she was just too young to achieve this success.
  • She did her initial training at the Airforce Academy, Dundigul which is near Hyderabad.
  • Her further training was done at Air Lift Forces Training Establishment at Yelahanka Air Force Station.
  • She was one of the Seven women plebe seated into the Air Force as Short Service Commission officers.
  • Tied with a strap to the Pilot’s seat inside the cockpit of an Avro aircraft and neatly zipped up in her navy blue overalls, She made a history when she touched the clouds.
  • Her aircraft was at the height of 10,000 feet. A girl from Chandigarh who was just 22-year-old became the first woman pilot in the Indian Air Force to fly an aircraft without any co-pilot.
  • After her successful flight when she was asked about her feelings she said that she is very happy as she was the first officer to do it and she is happier as she had lived up to the expectations of her instructor.
  • She further added that she had been induced as a pilot into the IAF shift of transport fliers. She always had confidence in her. And she been well trained and allowed to go solo had further beefed up her confidence.
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  • She flitted for about half an hour guiding the aircraft with proficiency as her colleagues and seniors supervising her movements with a great sense of pride.It was really a significant moment for her.
  • Apart from this there was more good news, Flight Cadet Archana Kapoor from Noida, UP, and Flight Cadet Bindu Sebastian — too had done their solos on the Avro.
  • Priya Nalgundwar, Pamela Rodrigues, Priya Paul, Anisha Shinh were the remaining plebe to do their solo in the next week.
  • All these seven girls had proved themselves and given IAF a chance to look forward to a competent addition to its fleet of fliers. All these were in their early 20s and measuring around five feet five inch of height.
  • They had astoundingly reached the final stage III of flying training. By seeing at their performance, many of the officers at Yelahanka passed a comment that their performance is comparable with the performance of male counterparts.
  • After their successful completion of Stage III training Avro and AN- 32, they got their ‘wings’ and were commissioned at the Air Force Academy, Secunderabad. After that, they were posted out to Squadron service.
  • Unfortunately  as the saying goes “He, who is to be hanged, shall never be drowned”  the fate had it that  she was one of 24 Air Force personnel to die when an Indian Air Force Avro aircraft, crashed near the Bukkapuram village in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh on Dec. 25, 1996.
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  • Being a native of Chandigarh, Punjab, India  she came from the Sikh community whose members follow the teachings of saint Guru Nanak.
  • The Sikhs are supposedly great warriors and stand for their integrity and dedication.
  • Sadly, very little is known about this young woman who made national headlines and is often quoted as a statistic in competitive exams. But what we can easily guess is that her tryst with the skies, however brief was filled with courage and fearlessness.
  • Though this brave woman is not alive, lots of Indian women have  derived inspiration from her hard work and bravery and  are anxious  to seek a career in Air Force in spite of dangers lurking in the shadow in such work.
Jai Hind

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