Republic Day 2021: Bhawana Kanth becomes 1st woman fighter pilot to be part of IAF’s tableau
Flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth on Tuesday became the first woman fighter pilot to be take part in the Indian Air Force's (IAF's) tableau at the Republic Day parade at Delhi’s Rajpath. The IAF tableau displayed mock-ups of the light combat aircraft, light combat helicopter and the Sukhoi-30 fighter plane.
Kanth joined the fighter squadron in November 2017 and flew the first solo on MiG-21 Bison in March 2018. 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.
After clearing Stage I training, Kanth got the opportunity to opt for the fighter stream. She 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.
The Air Force contingent, comprising 96 airmen and four officers, was led by flight lieutenant Tanik Sharma. It was followed by the Air Force Tableau titled Indian Air Force: Touch the Sky with Glory, which showcased scaled-down models of light combat aircraft, light combat helicopter, Su-30 MK-I aircraft and Rohini radar against a sky-blue background. The smartly attired officers in their flying overalls stood alongside the models. Air warriors were seen in 12 by 8 formation.
Warrant officer Ashok Kumar led the IAF band which played the tune of "Sound Barrier Quick March.' The band comprises three drum majors and 72 musicians.
India’s biggest ceremonial event began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying tributes to the fallen soldiers by laying a wreath at the National War Memorial in the national capital. Union defence minister Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, Indian Army chief Gen MM Naravane, Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh and Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria were a part of the ceremony.