Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Indian Air Force: Women pilots are flying high like never before

Women pilots in the Indian Air Force are exploring new frontiers that were till recently reserved only for their male counterparts.

Squadron leader Teji Uppal achieved the rare feat when she landed An-32 transport aircraft, a twin-engine turboprop, at Daulat Beg Oldie, an advanced landing ground (ALG) located at an elevation of 15,400 feet about mean sea level (MSL) just a few kilometers away from the Line of Actual Control in Leh.

She is among the select group of women pilots who have been operating in high altitude areas which requires specialised training of northern sector on various missions.

Squadron leader Veena Saharan became the first woman pilot to land heavy lift transport aircraft IL-76 at Leh airfield.

The heavy aircraft was opened to woman pilots for flying only recently and she was among the first to graduate to the type after having flown smaller An-32s. Another officer, squadron leader Nidhi Handa, the first woman pilot in IAF from Himachal Pradesh, in a short career span of six years, to reach the B-Green category which allows her to captain an aircraft in all the roles in every sector of the country.

Officials said high altitude flying requires special skills and one has to be cleared first to operate in such environment.

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