Women have been conditioned to believe that certain jobs aren’t meant for them. These include working in the army, doing field work, or even flying. However, in the recent past, several women have shattered the glass ceiling for reaching for the skies, quite literally. One among them is Shaliza Dhami who has served in the Indian Air Force for 15 years.
On August 27th, Shaliza Dhami became the country’s first woman Flight Commander. Prior to this she served as a Wing Commander in the Indian Air Force (IAF). In her new position, she took charge of the Chetak helicopter unit at the Hindon Air Base in Uttar Pradesh. She’s going to operate a light utility helicopter which has a maximum speed of 220km/hour, and can accommodate six passengers or a load of 500kg. The aircraft is capable of commuting, cargo/material transport, casualty evacuation, Search and Rescue (SAR), Aerial Survey and Patrolling, Emergency Medical Services, Off-shore operations and Underslung operations
Born in Ludhiana, Shaliza dreamt of being a pilot since she was in the 9th grade. In 2003, she took her first solo flight on board the HPT-32 Deepak—a basic trainer aircraft—in Hyderabad. In 2017, she clocked in over 2,300 flying hours. In the same year, she became IAF’s first woman flying instructor.
While it has taken India a very long time to find its first female wing commander, it’s a beginning nevertheless. Onwards and upwards!