Inspired by late NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla, Flight Lieutenant Avani Chaturvedi created history in 2016 when she became the first Indian woman to fly an IAF combat jet. Two years later, she became the first Indian woman to fly solo in a MiG-21 Bison fighter. What better way to recall her exploits than on the eve of International Women's Day?
After completing a year's rigorous training at the Air Force Academy at Dundigal, Chaturvedi and her coursemates, Mohana Singh and Bhawana Kanth, were inducted into the IAF as Flight Lieutenants in June 2016 and formally commissioned two years later.
The 25-year-old had decided to join the Indian Air Force after an exhilarating experience in the flying club of her college. Guided in her dream to join the armed forces by her brother, a lieutenant, and others in her family who are in army, Chaturvedi was also inspired by the life and works of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Hailing from Madhya Pradesh's Rewa district, Chaturvedi did her schooling from Deoland, a small town in Shahdol district. After obtaining a B.Tech from Rajasthan's Banasthali University in 2014, she passed the Combined Defence Services Examination and opted for the IAF.
While pursuing her B.Tech, she took aviation as an additional subject at the campus aviation school. It was here that Chaturvedi's keen understanding of aviation was also recognised and she was encouraged by her faculty to earn her wings.
Currently posted with 23 Squadron (Panthers) at AFS Suratgarh, Chaturvedi will be eligible to fly other fighter jets like the Sukhoi SU-30 and the Tejas after she completes her stage-3 training. The receipient of an honorary doctorate from Banasthali Vidyapeeth last October, Chaturvedi loves playing chess and table tennis and also enjoys sketching and painting.