Lieutenant Avani Chaturvedi has created history by becoming the first Indian woman in Indian Air Force to fly solo in the MiG-21 Bison, fighter plane. Avani's achievement has put India in the list of countries like Britain, the United States, Israel, and Pakistan, where women are allowed to fly fighter jets for their countries.

Avani was born on 27th October 1993 in Rewa, Satna district in Madhya Pradesh. Her mother is a homemaker and father, Dinkar Chaturvedi is an executive engineer in the water resource department in Madhya Pradesh Government. Avani's brother is an Army Officer and he was the biggest inspiration for Avani to join the Indian Air Force. She wanted to touch the sky and hence she joined the Flying Club in her college.
Avani has completed her schooling from Deoland, a small town in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh. She did her Bachelor's in computer science from Banasthali University, Rajasthan in 2014. Avani was a Core Team member of Mayusk (Annual Technical Fiesta of her University). During her college studies, Avani underwent a 6 month's internship as an Associate Software Engineer at Ranosys Technologies Pte Ltd. After completing her B.Tech she joined IBM as a system engineer and worked there for 3 years. But she always wanted to become a fighter pilot and hence she joined campus aviation school during her B.tech. It was a difficult task to clear verbal examination for Student Pilot License.
"Our chief flight instructor, Captain S.D. Sharma and chief ground instructor Captain Gautam Bose discovered that Avani showed a great understanding of aviation. Captain Bose said, ‘This girl has spark; she is very promising’". - Dr. Seema Verma, the dean of aviation school
So, they started encouraging her and immensely pushed her to pursue her dream. Avani applied for the Indian Air Force exam and she cleared it. Next, she went on for a rigorous training at Hyderabad Airforce Academy in Dindigul. She worked hard and showed her dedication toward her dream. Avani's favorite scientist is Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. She was the one among the first batch of three women who were selected by IAF when the government decided to permit women to apply to the fighter stream in October 2015. This batch was commissioned by the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and two of her cohorts were flying officers Mohana Singh Jitarwal and Bhawana Kanth. Parrikar named the trio's induction day as a “red-letter day” and said his ministry was working towards bringing about “total gender parity” in the armed forces.
In July 2016, she started her journey in Indian Air Force at Jamnagar base on 19th February in a MiG-21. Avani has also undertaken six months of training on Kiran trainer jets at Hakimpet, and then she went for a year-long training stint on Hawk advanced trainer jets at Bidar Air Base. It was February 2018, when Avani made the Nation proud and she became the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo and It was a MiG-21 Bison.
"Chaturvedi became the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo when she flew a MiG-21 bison in her first solo flight," the official said, according to a PTI report. "It is a unique achievement for Indian Air Force and the country," Air Commodore Prashant Dixit said. Avani also got featured in an advertisement for Indian Air Force recruitment. “There is a strong belief that combat, by nature, is a male occupation; that the army is a male space and combat the most masculine of all aspects of war," wrote senior social scientist and historian, Prem Chowdhry in her paper titled, ‘Women in the Army’, published in Economic and Political Weekly in August 2010. Avani worked hard and de-stablished this belief. Her achievement exponentially contributed to the complex narrative surrounding gender equality in India.
Avani has proved that being a woman is not a boundary if you have a dream to achieve, you need to work for it and nothing can stop you from achieving it. Before 2016, women made up just 2.5% of India's armed forces, working in mainly non-combat roles. Surely Avani's achievement will help other Indian women to come out with their talent and to grow with their passion.

Author's Bio: 

Anu Bhardwaj