Pioneering  Women In The Indian Air Force

By Vandya Rai

October 7, 2022

Vijayalakshmi Ramanan

Ramanan joined the Indian Army Medical Corps in 1955 and became the only woman commissioned officer in the Indian Air Force in 1971. She worked as a gynaecologist in military hospitals and provided medical care during wars. She received the Vishisht Seva Medal in 1977. Her indomitable spirit inspired the women after her.

India’s First Woman  IAF Officer

Image Source: Wikipedia

Gunjan Saxena

An Indian Air Force Officer since 1996 and former helicopter pilot. She is a 1999 Kargil War Veteran. During the war, she was responsible for surveillance and mapping enemy positions and evacuated over 900 wounded troops. The book and movie The Kargil Girl document her life.

One of the First Women  in a Combat Zone

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Dr Padmavathy Bandhopadhyay  

A woman who broke many barriers. She was also the first Indian woman to join the Aerospace Medical Society and conduct research at the North Pole. She was promoted to a 3-star rank and received the Param Vishisht Seva Medal for her conduct during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. Dr Padma was awarded the highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri.

The First Indian Air Marshal

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Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth, & Mohana Singh 

In 2018, Chaturvedi was the first woman pilot to complete a solo flight in a fighter aircraft, and Kanth and Singh joined her in flying fighter aeroplanes. Kanth was the first woman to undertake combat missions in 2019. On International Women’s Day 2020, the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, awarded them with the Nari Shakti Puraskar.

The First 3 Women  Fighter Pilots

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Shaliza Dhami

Wing Commander Shaliza Dhami is also the first woman officer in the IAF to receive a permanent commission in 2018. Her first solo flight was in 2003 in a HAL HPT-32 Deepak. She became the first woman flying instructor for the IAF and for the Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.

The First Woman Flight Commander

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Minty Agarwal

Squadron Leader Agarwal is an IAF flight controller. She was part of the team that guided India’s air defence during the India-Pakistan border skirmishes in 2019. She received the Yudh Seva Medal from the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind,  for her distinguished service during wartime.

The First Woman to Recieve a Yudh Seva Medal

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Kamaljeet Kaur & Rakhi Bhandari

In 2019, for the first time in the Indian Air Force, the two women pilots operated a parallel taxi track in a Dornier aircraft at Sirsa, Haryana. The width of the track is considerably lesser with no landing gear, making it a more difficult but important feat during times of conflict when runways are not available.

The First All-Women Crew To Undertake Parallel Taxi Track 

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Hina Jaiswal

In 2019, Flight Lieutenant Jaiswal became the first Indian woman flight engineer in the Indian Air Force. Upon completing the Flight Engineers course at  112 Helicopter Unit, she got appointed at the air base in Bengaluru.

The First Indian Woman Flight Engineer

Image Source: Wikipedia