It is true that Indian armed forces have been working towards being more inclusive of female soldiers and pilots, and now, scripting a new chapter, the Indian Navy has operationally deployed its first batch of women pilots for Maritime Reconnaissance (MR) missions on Dornier aircraft operating from the Southern Naval Command headquartered in Kochi. Rear Admiral Antony George Chief Staff Officer (Training) of SNC presented awards to the pilots who are now fully qualified on Dornier aircraft for all operational missions.
The three women pilots of the first batch are Lieutenant Divya Sharma (from Malviya Nagar, New Delhi), Lieutenant Shubhangi Swaroop (from Tilhar, Uttar Pradesh) and Lieutenant Shivangi (from Muzaffarpur, Bihar). The three women pilots are part of the six pilots of the 27th Dornier Operational Flying Training (DOFT) Course who graduated as ‘Fully operational Maritime Reconnaissance (MR) Pilots’ at a passing out ceremony held at naval air station Garuda in Kochi. Amongst the three women pilots operationalised for MR flying, Lt Shivangi was the first to qualify as a naval pilot on December 2, 2019.
The course contained a month-long ground training phase, which was conducted at various professional schools of the Command, besides eight months of flying training at the Dornier Squadron of SNC, INAS 550. Lt Divya Sharma and Lt Shivam Pandey were adjudged ‘First in Flying’ and ‘First in Ground’ subjects, respectively. The Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (South) rolling trophy in memory of late Lt Simon George Pynomootil for the ‘Most spirited trainee’ was presented to Lt Kumar Vikram. This trophy was instituted in June 2019 during the Diamond Jubilee Celebration of INAS 550 to immortalize the spirit of the officer who was a qualified Islander pilot and lost his life in an air crash while serving the squadron in May 1985.