Meet Squadron Leader Shaliza Dhami IAF’s First Woman Flying Instructor

Growing up in Ludhiana to parents who were in government jobs, Dhami wrote in her 9th-standard slambook that she wanted to be a pilot. That is her earliest recollection of wanting to join the Air Force.

Today, she flies Chetak and Cheetah helicopters as an instructor and has clocked 2,300 hours of flying during her 13 years in the IAF. It’s first qualified flying woman instructor and mother to a seven-year-old; Dhami’s life is all about training cadets and trainee army officers till they are competent enough to take their first independent sorties. “I still remember that day at the academy in Hyderabad in 2003 when I took my first solo flight on the HPT-32 Deepak, a basic trainer aircraft.

It was at the downwind when I turned to ask my instructor to do a check, and realised that I was entirely by myself. It was an indescribable feeling. I felt confident—and I felt grateful,” she says. By now, flying a chopper comes more naturally to Dhami than driving a car. “At least nobody comes in my way,” she laughs.

IAF’s first woman flying instructor, 13 years of service

It was at the downwind when I turned to ask my instructor to do a check, and realised that I was entirely by myself. It was an indescribable feeling. I felt confident—and I felt grateful,” she says. By now, flying a chopper comes more naturally to Dhami than driving a car. “At least nobody comes in my way,” she laughs.

Dhami’s greatest learning from her career has been an ability to trust. “Believing in the people you work with is critical. I fly an aircraft that my ground crew signs and certifies. I fly it in good faith. This is not seen very commonly in the civil world,” she says. “My instructors gave me their best. My achievement isn’t purely my own. I am duty-bound to disseminate all I know till the last moment.”

source: cntraveller

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