Flt Lt Bhawana Kanth Becomes 1st Woman Fighter Pilot To Be Qualified To Undertake Missions

Written by , MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Chaitra Krishnan MA (Journalism & Mass Communication) Experience: 5 years

Just a few decades ago if any girl would have told her father that she wanted to become a fighter pilot, he would have probably laughed at her and said, “Yes, you can.” It was so difficult for our society to accept women in such powerful roles that even the thought about it coming true was a joke. But as of today, all that’s in the past biting dust. Thanks to women fighter pilots like Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth who left behind the age-old stereotypes, flying through new doors of opportunities is real.

Flt Lt Bhawana Kanth is one among the first women pilots of India. And earlier this year she created history by becoming the first woman fighter pilot to get a green tick for combat missions on a fighter jet. She achieved this path-breaking milestone after successfully finishing the operational syllabus to undertake combat missions of MiG-21 Bison aircraft. Bhawana’s achievement is an eye-opener for every person who believes that women are best seen with kitchen utensils and makeup kits. Want to know about the success story of this fighter pilot? Read on.

An Acquired Dream

Image: Instagram @bhawanakanth

Bhawana was born to Tej Narayan Kanth and Radha Kanth in Darbhanga, Bihar. In her school days, she took a keen interest in sports like Kho Kho, swimming, and badminton. Bhawana was also interested in art and loved painting and modeling. After completing her schooling in DAV Public School in Barauni Refinery, she moved to Kota in Rajasthan to prepare for the engineering entrance examinations. Having been a bright student since school, Bhawana completed her bachelor’s in Medical Electronics engineering from BMS College of Engineering, Bengaluru. She earned a gold medal for securing the first rank as well!

It was during her entrance preparation time in Kota when Bhawana first expressed her desire to join the National Defense Academy (NDA). Even though her father worked as an electrical engineer in the Indian Oil Corporation, he always wanted to join the Indian Air Force (IAF). His love for the defense services sprouted when he was an NCC (National Cadet Corps) cadet during his school days. Interestingly, he was selected in the IAF but couldn’t because his father did not allow him to. Succumbing to the pressure from his family, Tej Kanth dropped his dreams. However, now he gets to proudly live that dream through his daughter.

“She always wanted to become a pilot, but she never thought of becoming a fighter pilot only because there was no option earlier,” Tej Kanth said in an interview with a leading news agency.

From IT To The Sky

Image: Twitter

After completing her graduation in 2014, Bhawana was hired by the IT giant Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). But fate had something much bigger than a desk job in store for the young lady. She was commissioned into IAF in 2016 as one of the first few women pilots and for her Stage I training she chose the fighter stream. In June the same year, she entered the Stage II training on jet trainer HAL HJT-16 Kiran at Hakimpet Air Force Station in Hyderabad. After the 6-month long second stage, she got commissioned in Dundigal’s Combined Graduation Parade Spring Term at the Air Force Academy as Flying Officer.

Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi were the two other women fighter pilots who joined IAF along with Bhawana Kanth. Both Avani and Bhawana were trained to fly the supersonic jet, MiG-21 Bison after the completion of their initial training stages. While Avani was posted to 23 Squadron, Suratgarh (Rajasthan), Bhawana was posted to 3 Squadron, Ambala (Haryana).

A Role Model

Image: Twitter

After accomplishing her childhood dream of being a fighter pilot, Bhawana told PTI in an interview, “It was something only boys were expected to aspire for. At least that was the stereotype. But my parents never made me feel I needed to think any different just because I am a girl.” Following the footsteps of Bhawana, her younger sister Tanuja Kanth has also expressed her wish to join the defense force. She wanted to join the Indian Navy soon after school but her parents wanted her to complete her graduation before doing so. Currently, she is pursuing her engineering course at DY Patil College in Pune.

In an interview with a news agency, Bhawana’s mother Radha Kanth expressed her apprehension related to her climb in the IAF. “But my daughter called me up and told me – bus ka accident kitna hota hai? Aur plane ka kitna? Aur fighter jet udana toh koi bhi plane udaane jaisa hai (How many bus accidents take place and how many planes crash? Flying a fighter jet is like flying any other aircraft),” she added.

From Bhawana’s story, we can learn that it’s not just her who is a role model but also her parents. Like the famous old saying ,“Behind every successful woman there’s a father who believed in her,” Bhawana’s story is built on the encouragement from her parents. Did Bhawana’s journey inspire you? Have you ever wanted to join the defense force? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Banner Image Credits: pbs.twimg.com

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