This article originally appeared on VICE India.
We’re all asked to reach for the sky, though few actually manage to conquer such heights. But not Shaliza Dhami. The woman officer for the Indian Air Force (IAF) just became the very first female flight commander in the country.
Being the IAF’s first female Qualified Flying Instructor for Chetak and Cheetah helicopters and also second-in-command for a Chetak helicopter unit at Hindon Airbase, Dhami has shattered the glass ceiling and paved the path for more women officers to reach such high places.
Growing up in the city of Ludhiana in Punjab, Dhami had dreamed of joining the air force since her high school days, according to a blog posted by a military, airforce and internal security media publisher. Now a Wing Commander, she has clocked over 23,000 flying hours, along with bringing up a nine-year-old daughter.
Wing Commander Dhami is also the first woman officer to be granted permanent commission for a long tenure with the IAF. Women officers have been allowed to do Short Service Commission since 1994, with the IAF recruiting their first female fighter pilot force in 2016. However, it was only in March 2019 that they were given the legal right to be considered for permanent commissions and asked to be considered equal to their male counterparts.
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