Flying in the Sukhoi-30 MKI of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Pune, President Pratibha Patil has become the first women president to fly in fighter jet, an event that is historic.
According to information, the aircraft commanded by Wing Commander S Sajan took off from the Lohegaon Air Force base on the outskirts of the state’s IT and academic capital at around 10.55.
An IAF spokesman said that the aircraft flew at an altitude of 10,000 feet at a speed of around 800 kmph or 0.9 Mach, though not achieving the supersonic levels of nearly 1100 kmph, in the course of the sortie that lasted narly 40 minutes.
Shortly after her arrival at the air base, Patil – the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces – was accorded a ceremonial guard of honour by a smartly-turned out contingent of air-warriors donning the IAF colours of sky-blue shirts and black trousers.
Then, Patil had breakfast and underwent a mandatory pre-flight medical test and was found fit to undertake the flight. After which, donning a G-Suit (anti-gravity suit) which helps the flier withstand high gravitational pressure by preventing excessive blood from flowing to the brain, the president boarded the aircraft.
Besides the aircraft in which Patil travelled in the rear seat, two other Sukhois flew beside to enable her to experience what fighter jets look like in flight at that altitude and at such high speeds.
Just before the flight, the president asked for a glass of water, but later declined to drink, indicating her nervous but excited state of mind.