Flying Officer Ananya with her father, Air Commodore Sanjay Sharma
As a child living near air force bases, she would often look up at the jets and ask her father, “Why is there no woman fighter pilot?” The father, a fighter pilot, would see the future: “Don’t worry, you’ll be one.”
Not only is that girl now Flying Officer Ananya, but she and her father, Air Commodore Sanjay Sharma, have done one better. Making history, the father-daughter duo flew their jets in the same formation of Hawk-132 aircraft in Karnataka’s Bidar on May 30.
“There has not been any previous instance in the Indian Air Force where a father and his daughter were part of the same fighter formation for a mission,” the IAF has said in a release.
Air Commodore Sharma called it “the the biggest day of my life… a dream come true”.
“Ananya always wanted to become a pilot,” he said. “After her commissioning as a Flying Officer, she came and saluted me. I was really proud. I’m still very proud.”
An engineering graduate, she was commissioned as a fighter pilot in December 2021. Her father is in the force since 1989.
They were “more than just father and daughter” when flying together, said the IAF, “They were comrades who had full faith in each other as fellow wingmen would.”
“When I was growing up,” she said, “we were mostly posted to fighter bases, so we would often hear the sound of jets flying over us. Knowing that my father is flying one of them was always an inspiration. The sound of fighter jets always inspired me.” She said while she was curious about the absence of woman fighter pilots, and her father motivated her to become one.
Flying Officer Ananya is under training at the IAF station in Bidar, before she graduates to more superior fighter aircraft.
Six years ago, three woman pilots became the first ones to enter the IAF fighter squadron in an experimental system. In February this year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced that the scheme is now permanent.
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