Bhawana Kanth to take part in R-Day parade, first woman fighter pilot to do so
Flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth will be a part of the Republic Day parade this year to become the first woman fighter pilot to take part in India's biggest ceremonial event on January 26, officials said on Monday. She will be a part of the Indian Air Force's (IAF's) tableau that will showcase mock-ups of the light combat aircraft, light combat helicopter and the Sukhoi-30 fighter plane. She is currently posted at an airbase in Rajasthan where she flies the MiG-21 Bison fighter plane.
Kanth is also one of the first women fighter pilots in the IAF. She, along with Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh, was inducted into the IAF as the first women fighter pilots in 2016. Ten women have been commissioned as fighter pilots after an experimental scheme for their induction into the IAF’s combat stream was introduced in 2015, a watershed in the air force’s history.
Kanth, who belongs to Darbhanga in Bihar, was born and brought up in the Refinery Township, Begusarai, where her father worked as an engineer in IOCL. She did her schooling from Barauni Refinery DAV Public School and completed her bachelor of engineering in medical electronics from BMS College of Engineering in Bengaluru.
She loves playing badminton, volleyball and adventure sports and is also interested in photography, cooking, swimming and travelling. After clearing Stage I training, she got the opportunity to opt for the fighter stream. Kanth had said after her induction in the IAF, while recalling her first experience of the spin solo on fighter aircraft Kiran, that as she entered the aircraft into a spin and recovered it all by herself at 20,000 feet, doubt started creeping into her mind as to what if the aircraft didn’t recover.
“I told myself that if I don’t do it now, I will always be afraid of it. I spun the aircraft and to my surprise, the spin was more vicious or so it seemed. But the fighter pilot in me took over and I told myself come what may I will recover. And the aircraft recovered from spin and so did my confidence,” she had said.
Also read | IAF women pilots set to fly Sukhoi-30 this month
This year, Rafale fighter jet will also take part in the Republic Day parade for the first time. The Indian Air Force has inducted 11 of the 36 Rafale jets ordered by New Delhi at a cost of ₹59,000 crore. Seven more fighters have been handed over to India by Dassault but these are being used for training IAF pilots in France. The third batch of three fighter jets is scheduled to land on January 27.
Rafales, Su-30s and MiG-29s, the fighter jets which are part of the IAF's muscular posture in the Ladakh theatre, will be among 45 aircraft taking part in Republic Day flypast.