NEW DELHI:Breaking yet another glass ceiling, two women officers have made their way into IAF’s helicopter display team ‘Sarang’. Squadron Leader Deepika Misra and flight lieutenant Sandeep Singh made their debut at the ongoing ‘Aero India’ airshow in Bengaluru.
According to Union Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials, it was during her passing out parade at the Air Force Academy in December 2006 that Deepika, then a cadet, first fell in love with the aerobatic displays by the ‘Surya Kirans’ and Sarang, the IAF’s fixed-wing and rotary-wing aerobatic display teams respectively. She imagined herself flying some day in either of the formation flying teams. Back then, however, it seemed an impossible dream but she never gave up hope.
Deepika was commissioned into the helicopter team and posted to a Chetak/ Cheetah helicopter unit. Women short service commissioned (SSC) pilots were only permitted to fly these single engine helicopters then. However, in 2010, the IAF made a major policy shift to allow conversion of women pilots to twin-engine category of medium to heavy-lift helicopters. Having notched up nearly 1,600 hours on Chetak and Cheetah helicopters after her two stints at Bareilly and Udhampur, Deepika was more than ready when the opportunity came.
Later, when the IAF sought volunteers from among women helicopter pilots to join the Sarang team, she promptly volunteered for the new challenge, the MoD official added.