For someone who acquired the awesome reputation of breaching the once impregnable Chinese Wall, ace shuttler Saina Nehwal explored a different frontier when she flew through the clouds, literally, on Friday. For the London Olympics bronze medallist, it was “the best experience,” when she flew in a Kiran aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

“I was initially scared. I was more nervous than playing the bronze medal match in London. But, once in the sky, I felt more comfortable,” said a beaming Ms. Nehwal after her 22-minute sortie from the Air Force Academy at Dundigal near here.

“It was a dream day for me. Like anyone as a child I always dreamt of flying. But never thought it would happen this way. It was a great experience,” she said. “I will come back again, maybe after a few more lessons in flying,” Ms. Nehwal said.

“I play badminton day in and day out. To be here is a great feeling. The IAF is doing a great service to the country. So, I thank badminton for giving me this huge opportunity.”

Ms. Nehwal was co-pilot alongside Group Captain Nagesh Kapoor. “Halfway through, he gave me the controls. It was a terrific feeling and really, really wonderful and so different from the normal flight.”

The IAF later felicitated Ms. Nehwal, with Deputy Commandant Bharti as the chief guest after the champion interacted with the cadets and attended the sports meet valedictory function.