President Pratibha Patil is “medically fit” to fly in a frontline Sukhoi fighter aircraft, but would undertake the sortie only if found fit on the day of the flight, IAF chief P V Naik said here on Friday.
“We have completely evaluated her health. She has been preparing for this for the last two months and she is medically fit,” Air Chief Marshal Naik told reporters here.
“Even on the day she goes on the sortie, she will be tested, just before she gets into the aircraft. Only if the President is medically fit on that particular day, she will take the flight,” he said, when queried on the fitness of the 74-year-old President.
Ms. Patil is scheduled to fly the air superiority aircraft from Lohegaon airbase near Pune on November 25 and will be doing so in her capacity as the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.
“Being the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, it is a matter of pride for the IAF that she will be flying one of our aircraft,” Mr. Naik said.
Asked if her flight would pave the way for IAF women officers to become fighter pilots, the air chief said, “Women can fly fighter aircraft and there are several civilian women, who have done so in the past“.
He said Ms. Patil has been briefed and given a video-audio presentation on flying in a fighter jet plane by Air Force officers recently. “She will again be briefed on the day she will fly in the SU-30MKI,” he added.