“I Dreamt of Flying Like a Free Bird”: Fl Lt Shivangi Singh is the First Woman Pilot to Fly Rafale


“I Dreamt of Flying Like a Free Bird”: Fl Lt Shivangi Singh is the First Woman Pilot to Fly Rafale

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The Rafale jet deal has been in conversation for over a year, with a majority of it centred around alleged corruption in the procurement of the aircraft. Earlier this week, however, all that chatter made way for a proud moment for one of India’s daughters.

Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh has made history after becoming the first woman pilot to join Rafale’s “Golden Arrows” Squadron in Ambala, after the aircraft were formally inducted into the Indian Air Force on September 10, reports say.

Flight Lt Singh, who is from Varanasi, is currently undergoing conversion training to fly the jet, and will soon join Ambala’s No. 17 squadron. The officer has so far been flying the MiG-21 Bison aircraft, and had been serving at a fighter base in Rajasthan, a source said in Hindustan Times.

In Rajasthan, Lt Singh worked alongside one of India’s most well-known fighter pilots — Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman — who was credited with shooting down a Pakistani fighter jet last year before being taken captive across the border. The Wing Commander is said to have personally been involved in Lt Singh’s training.

Lt Singh was recently included in one of the first batches of women combat pilots to be inducted into the IAF, following a watershed ruling in 2015 on the role of women in the armed forces. The IAF currently has 10 women fighter pilots, who have undergone the training required to fly supersonic jets, the Times of India said.

The officer is a graduate of the Banaras Hindu University, and was a part of the 7 UP Air Squadron in the National Cadet Corps. She proceeded to train at the Air Force Academy in 2016. In an interview from the following year, Lt Singh was quoted as saying it was her dream to “fly like a free bird” that inspired her to join the Force.

“It is a matter of pride for us. She worked hard, we supported her. We are very happy today,” her father was quoted as saying after the announcement.

As the flight lieutenant celebrates this massive achievement with her family, we’re sure she will soon emerge as a role model to young women across the country. Kudos to her.