FIRST INDIAN Co-Pilot to Fly Largest Aircraft of IAF (IL-76)

IL-76 flown by Woman Co-pilot "Saharan" from Indian Airforce

IL-76 flown by Woman Co-pilot "Saharan" from Indian Airforce

Nagpur: One more gender barrier fell to the determination of women as Squadron Leader Veena Saharan became the first woman co-pilot to fly one of the mightiest and heaviest aircraft of the Indian Air Force – the Russian-built Illyushin-76 (IL-76).
She will first co-pilot IL-76, renamed by the IAF as Gajraj (Elephant), and after 40 hours of flying she will become the pilot.
“It is a great achievement. I have just finished my solo flight of the IL-76 aircraft. Now I am looking forward to the second step of gaining expertise on this aircraft… It is good that the IAF is creating more opportunities for women officers,” an elated Saharan told IANS on Wednesday.
Saharan, 27, hails from Jaipur and is a second-generation defence officer. Her father, a colonel in the Indian Army, is also proud of her.
She completed her two-month ground training for the aircraft at the Agra air base last month and has now moved on to Nagpur for further training.
After flying IL-76 for 40 hours Saharan will complete her conversion from AN-32 transport aircraft to the largest transport aircraft of the force.
Commissioned in the IAF in December 2002, Saharan’s story is of hard work and sweat. The opportunity to fly IL-76 was always there for the women pilots since their induction into the IAF a decade and a half ago but it is only the best who get a chance. So far Saharan has flown four types of aircraft.
“I started with the two-seater HPT-32 aircraft and then moved on to Dornier transport aircraft. I have also flown AN-32 and now will be flying IL-76,” she explained.

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~ by anand213 on March 5, 2009.

7 Responses to “FIRST INDIAN Co-Pilot to Fly Largest Aircraft of IAF (IL-76)”

  1. Congratulations to Squadron Leader Veena Saharan. Its a great aircraft and of course largest with the Indian Airforce. I remember my first flight onboard IL-76, when I was just a young 2Lt of the Indian Army, we were airlifted from Secunderbad and dropped at Goa. It was a massive exercise named as Tri-Shakti. I was sitting with navigator an enjoying the night view through the glass window special made for the navigator.

    Best wishes to Squadron Leader Veena Saharan !

  2. Please add me in your Blog Roll. Go ahead.

  3. Bravo!!! Sqn Ldr Veena Saharan, tons of congrats to you, Its been around 1.5 Years since I left IAF, but still nostalgic about IL-76 & 25 Sqn, I was just surfing IL-76 on Google & I saw her name. I saw her energatic & dynamic attitue on tarmac of 25 Sqn when she used to go for early sorties of AN-32. We all proud of you Mam.

  4. keep up the spirit!!!

  5. Sqn Ldr Veena Saharan has broken another record. She has today become the first (and the only) woman pilot of IL-76 to be upgraded to a full Captain of the aircraft and shall be the lead pilot henceforth. So far she had been a co-pilot and was acquiring the necessary skills and experience to be upgraded to this level. It was a proud moment for all of us to see this day.

    Tarun Singh

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