The blue skies of Air Force Academy turned vibrant with a colourful march-past by the passing out Cadets on the ground and amazing aerobatics in the air by various aircraft of Indian Air Force on 16 June 2018.
The momentous occasion of the graduation of 113 Flight Cadets as Flying Officers of the Indian Air Force included 13 women officers, one of them – a fighter pilot, Flying Officer Meghana Shanbough.
Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) graced the solemn ceremony as the Chief Guest and reviewed the Combined Graduation Parade. The Chief Guest was received by Air Marshal SRK Nair, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Training Command and Air Marshal Amit Tiwari, Commandant, Air Force Academy.
The grand event was witnessed by esteemed guests who included proud parents of the graduating trainees, various military and civilian dignitaries and few foreign Defence Attaches.
The Passing-Out Course
It was indeed a proud moment for 80 young pilots, 06 navigators and 27 ground duty officers who earned their coveted ‘Wings and Brevets’, along with 06 officers of Indian Navy and 05 officers of Indian Coast Guard on successful completion of their flying training. The CAS gave away various awards to the Flying Officers who had excelled in their training.
Flying Officer Tarun Nair from the Flying branch was awarded President’s Plaque and the Chief of the Air Staff ‘Sword of Honour’ for standing first in Overall Merit in Pilot Course. Flying Officer Abhishek Bajpai and Flying Officer Banti were awarded President’s Plaque for being first in overall merit in Navigation and Ground Duty branches respectively.
The ceremony began with the sky diving by the ‘Akash Ganga’ Team, enthralling the spectators by dotting the skies of Dundigal with tri- colours and precise landing right in front of them in the parade square. Spectators were held spellbound by the spectacular movements of the Air Warriors Drill Team, the ‘Nishan Toli’ marching-past with the ‘President’s Colours’ of the Academy and impressive Parade by the graduating trainees. The spectators were awestruck by the breath-taking aerobatics of highly experienced and skilled pilots of Suryakiran Aerobatic team, ‘Sarang’ the Helicopter Aerobatics Team, and PC 7 MK-II of the IAF.
The Reviewing Officer was accorded ceremonial salute by the Cadets followed by an impressive march past. The highpoint of the parade was the ‘Pipping Ceremony’. The Flight Cadets were awarded their ‘Stripes’ (Air Force rank) by the Chief Guest, the AOC-in-C Training Command and Commandant, Air Force Academy. They were then administered the ‘Oath of Service’ (the Pledge) by the Commandant of the Academy in the presence of the Chief Guest, Parents and other dignitaries.
All the Flight Cadets were imparted their initial basic training at AFA for six months (known as Stage–I) and subsequently underwent professional and advanced training at various Air Force Stations namely Hakimpet, Begumpet and Yelahanka besides AFA itself, based on their area of specialization, for another six months (known as Stage–II). After completion of both the stages of training, they re-assemble at Air Force Academy, Dundigal for the ‘Combined Graduation Parade’ from the portals of the majestic “Sekhon Block”, a landmark building named after Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, PVC.
The glittering ceremony culminated with the newly Commissioned Officers marching-out in two columns in slow march to the traditional notes of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, the poignant farewell tune played by Armed Forces of the world when bidding adieu to colleagues and comrades, proudly acknowledging the first salute given to them by their immediate juniors. They marched in absolute synchrony and with purposeful strides as they saluted the Reviewing Officer and crossed through the portals of their alma mater to take-on their future assignments and challenges unstintingly to “Touch the Sky with Glory”.
FO Meghana Shabough
Flying Officer Meghana Shanbough was born in Chikmanglur in a family of lawyers.
Her father Shri MK Ramesh is a practicing lawyer and mother Smt SC Shobha is presently serving as a judge in the District Consumer Forum, Udupi. She had her schooling at Little Rock Indian School a boarding school in Brahmavar, Udipi. She did engineering in Information Science and Engineering from Sri Jaya Chamarajendra College of Engineering, Mysore from 2011-15. After having joined in January 2017 in the Flying branch at Air Force Academy, she was cleared for flying in fighter stream in a trifurcation board in December 2017. She will be the sixth woman fighter pilot to be inducted in the IAF. After her graduation in 2015, she did basic mountaineering course form Manali and Para gliding at Goa during 2016, before joining IAF.