Flying Officer Meghana Shanbough became the first woman fighter pilot from South India on Saturday following the commissioning of 113 Indian Air Force (IAF) officers in Dundigal.

Meghana was one of the 13 women officers who were commissioned on Saturday at the Air Force Academy (AFA). She became the sixth woman fighter pilot to gain commissioning. The 23-year-old pilot hails from Marle, a village in Karnataka’s Chikmagalur district.

Karnataka deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara congratulated the young officer for making the whole of south India proud.

“Congratulations to Karnataka’s #MeghanaShanbough for becoming South India’s First Lady Fighter Pilot and touching the sky! You are an inspiration to all of us and you have made Karnataka very proud!” he wrote on Twitter.

 

CT Ravi, the BJP MLA from Chikkamagaluru, too, congratulated Meghana.

“Congratulations to Chikkamagaluru’s Pride, Miss Meghana for becoming the first South Indian Fighter Jet Pilot in the Indian Air Force. I wish Her more success in Her journey that will take her to greater heights,” he wrote on Twitter.

 

Meghana, who always harboured dreams of flying, completed her schooling in Chikmagalur and Udupi before joining Sri Jayachamarajendra College of Engineering (SJCE) in Mysuru.

After completing engineering in Information Science in 2015, Meghana joined AFA as a Flight Cadet in January 2017 after clearing the AFCAT (Air Force Common Admission Test) and the subsequent SSB (Services Selection Board) at the very first attempt.

According to The News Minute the young pilot was inspired to join the IAF when she learnt about the force’s first women fighter pilots – Flying Officers Mohana Singh, Bhawana Kanth and Avani Chaturvedi – graduating from AFA.

“I decided that I had to go for it, doing whatever it takes,” Meghana told The News Minute.

The IAF pilot credits her parents, especially her father, MK Ramesh, for supporting her decision.

“I told my dad that I wanted to study in a boarding school. My mother was initially hesitant, but my dad did not chip away my wings and was very supportive,” she said.

While Meghana’s father is an advocate, her mother, CV Shobha, is a judge with the District Consumer Forum in Udupi.

An avid adventurer, Meghana actively took on challenges such as trekking, rafting, mountaineering and paragliding, and was motivated to join the IAF by the discipline and way of life of the retired officers who acted as trainers.

The pilot will now be undergoing the next stage of training on a Hawk aircraft at Air Force Station Bidar.

On Saturday, 113 flight cadets graduated as Flying Officers of the IAF at the AFA. According to reports, the ceremony also witnessed 80 young pilots, six navigators and 27 ground duty officers earning their coveted ‘Wings and Brevets’, along with six officers of Indian Navy and five of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), who successfully completed their flying training.