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Updated: November 18, 2009 02:29 IST

President to be flown in Sukhoi on Nov. 25

Special Correspondent
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President Pratibha Patil
The Hindu President Pratibha Patil

IAF will achieve the distinction of flying the country’s first woman President and the second Supreme Commander to do so in a span of three years

Eight days from now, the Indian Air Force(IAF) would undertake a unique sortie of flying President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, the Supreme Commander of the armed forces at Pune.

When on November 25, Ms. Patil steps into the cockpit of Sukhoi 30 MKI at the Lohegaon airbase, the IAF will achieve the distinction of flying the country’s first woman President and the second Supreme Commander to do so in a span of three years. In June 2006, the then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam undertook a flying sortie in a Sukhoi.

Wing Commander S. Sajan, Commanding Officer of the squadron would be flying the President 10,000 feet to 20,000 feet at a maximum speed 0.9 Mach and after some 20 odd minutes , the aircraft will touch down with two fighter aircraft (SU 30MKI) escorting the plane .

Proud moment

Terming the event one that carries a powerful message of women’s empowerment, the Vice-Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal(AVM) P.K. Barbora said it is a proud moment for the IAF and a wonderful opportunity to show its capability.

He said it was the President’s desire to be flown in the fighter aircraft and praised her “tremendous guts” to undertake the sortie for which she has been declared medically fit. A pre-flight check-up would be carried out.

The sortie will do wonders to the IAF morale and will offer a close opportunity to the President to see the functioning of the Force. He said that it will be a normal sortie and will not engage in manoeuvres.

As the first woman President takes to the skies in the fighter aircraft, the IAF expressed reluctance to open the doors for woman to fly combat aircraft. On his part, AVM Barbora said the issue was being examined while listing out some areas where the debate continues.

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