London Olympic bronze medallist shuttler Saina Nehwal on Friday experienced the thrill of flying in an Indian Air Force aircraft, and described the experience as "dream come true".
She flew in 'Kiran Jet Trainer' for about 20 minutes, after taking off from the training academy in Dindigul on the outskirts of the city.
"It's a great honour. It was dream come true for me to fly. Everyone in their childhood dream of joining either Air Force or Army. We dream of becoming one of them.
"I never thought I would get an opportunity to fly. It was such a great experience. This encourages me to do even better in badminton," Saina told reporters after the sortie.
Badminton player Saina Nehwal along with IAF crew after she flew an IAF aircraft. (AP Photo)
Asked how she felt while on board, the ace badminton player said, "I was a little scared but when I was up I felt happy. He (the pilot) took me into the clouds...I was nervous but happy."
Saina added that it was like a video game.
The pilot, Group captain, N Kapoor, who flew Saina, complimented her but said that she was initially nervous.
Saina was briefed about the nuances of flying and cockpit familiarisation before getting into the aircraft.
Badminton player Saina Nehwal waves as she enters the cockpit of an IAF aircraft. (AP Photo)
She was the guest of honour at the closing ceremony of the sports week of the academy. The visit is aimed at inspiring the young cadets to achieve their goals.
In recent years, the IAF has been honouring sportspersons for their achievements in their respective fields and has granted them honorary ranks also.
Sachin Tendulkar was made an honorary Group Captain by the IAF last year for his achievements and along with Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was offered a sortie in frontline fighter aircraft SU-30MKI.
However, the offer made by then IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, has not been availed by the two cricketers so far.