HYDERABAD: The three women pilots, who will be commissioned as the first women fighter pilots of the country, had their heart-in-mouth moments during their training. But the trio overcame the hazards of flying with grit.
Recalling her first solo spin and recovery manoeuvre, flying at 20,000 feet, Bhawana Kant said that doubts started creeping into her mind on what would happen if the aircraft didn’t respond.
“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 all the recovery actions grilled in us during the training came out correctly and promptly. The aircraft recovered from the spin and so did my confidence,” said a beaming Bhawana Kanth.
Avani Chaturvedi had to abort her second solo flight sortie minutes before take-off. “As I started rolling for take-off near the first marker, I heard the Canopy Warning Audio,” she recounts.
“I got confused seeing the emerging situation. However, the training which I had undergone helped me reach the decision almost immediately, as I aborted the take-off, bringing the aircraft to a halt safely on the runway. That day I realized how the decision of a split second can bring the situation under control or out of control. Had I delayed aborting the takeoff or got airborne with the canopy open, the results could have been catastrophic,” she said. The first solo night sortie of flying cadet Mohana Singh was even more scary. She encountered bad weather with thunder and lightning and couldn’t distinguish between the stars in the sky and a small cluster of lights on the ground.
“I realized that I was not able to maintain any connection between instruments and the visual indications of aircraft attitude. I recalled what my instructor had taught me - No unnecessary head movements, switch over to instruments, trust your instruments - these words echoed in my head, and I disregarded the visual indications and continued descent to a lower altitude, relying totally on instruments. Once the ground was spotted, I got oriented and recovered the aircraft safely,” she said.