Harita Kaur Deol, first woman in Indian Air force to do solo!!

A photo of Flight Lt. Harita Kaur Deol. ...daily.bhaskar.com
Avro HS 748 trainer Aircraft. www.aircraftresourcecenter.com
 The women world over, particularly in non-European countries, in the last several decades have got out of the  safe and warm cocoon  set  by the conservative  societies and proved their worth.  Conservative  communities traditionally discouraged women to move freely in the society  and it took a while for the women to climb the social  ladder and now they occupy important positions in government and private companies. As for Indian  military, Navy and Air Force, the scenario changed long ago and there are  numerous women being recruted each year. Unlike white colllar jobs, work in the military services needs better health, agility, foresight and vision, not to speak of guts.

Harita Kaur Deol (1972 – December 25, 1996), a pilot with the Indian Air Force, became the first woman pilot to fly solo in the Indian Air Force.  She did this extraordinary feat  on 2 September, 1994 in an Avro HS-748  and  that  time  she  was just 22 years old. After taking off into the sky  she played hide and seek with the moving mystic clouds at an altitude of 10,000 feet and made history on that day and brought in laurels for the entire women's world, thus proving that women are equally competent and courageous as  men are. Mind  you as mentioned before, she was just too young to achieve this success.

Unfortunately  as the saying goes "He, who is to be hanged, shall never be drowned''  the fate had it that  she was one of 24 Air Force personnel to die when an Indian Air Force Avro aircraft, crashed near the Bukkapuram village in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh on Dec. 25, 1996.

Being a native of Chandigarh, Punjab, India  she came from the Sikh community whose members follow the teachings of saint Guru Nanak. The Sikhs are supposedly great warriors and stand for their integrity and dedication. Miss Deol  became one of first seven women cadets inducted into the Air Force as Short Service Commission (SSC) officer at a time when the defense department needed trained pilots for transport planes. As part of training,  she along with other cadets,  underwent training in various aspects of air transportation at Air Force Academy, Dundigul  near  Hyderabad. She received  additional  training at Air Lift Forces Training Establishment (ALFTE) at Yelahanka Air Force Station, near Bangalore, Karnataka.

Upon landing at the air force base after her historical first solo in the air, she received applause  and congratulations from a cross section of people. Being casual as she was, she was never overwhelmed by her feat and said, ''I am happy I was the first to do a solo and that I lived up to the expectations of my instructor,” Her stint in the Indian Airlines, her experience as a transport pilot and her ability in making sorties and necessary tricky maneuvers in the sky helped her complete the solo successfully. According to her trainer Air Commodore P.R. Kumar, Air-Officer-in Command at Air Lift Forces Training Establishment (ALFTE), Yelahanka Air Force Station she had perfect take off and landing, more than the standard set by the Air Force.

Later in the same year  Ms. Deol underwent final phase of training  at Yelahanka Air Force station to be inducted as officer in the  squadron service. The training was given on Avro and AN-32. On successful advanced training she was posted to  at the Air Force Academy, Secunderabad, in December this year as commissioned officer.

Though this brave woman is not alive, lots of Indian women have  derived inspiration from her hard work and bravery and  are anxious  to seek a carrier in Air Force in spite of dangers lurking in the shadow in such work.