The Indian Air Force opened a new page in aviation history when Flight Lieutenant Hina Jaiswal from Chandigarh became the first woman flight engineer. Though women engineers have been serving as ground duty officers, they have not been part of the aircrew. The flight engineers’ branch was opened to women officers in 2018. The IAF has had women pilots, both for fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters, for many years. Commissioned in 2015, Jaiswal is from the 112th Helicopter Unit at Yelahanka airbase, near Bengaluru.
She served as a battery commander in a frontline surface-to-air missile squadron before being selected for the six-month flight engineer course. Jaiswal did her schooling from Chandigarh and then completed her BTech from Panjab University. As a flight engineer, Jaiswal will be posted to operational helicopter units that undertake flying missions in varied geographical and climatic conditions, ranging from Siachen Glacier to hot deserts and coastal areas. A flight engineer is a member of the flight crew responsible for monitoring and operating complex aircraft systems.
The new assignment also brings with it added responsibilities and tougher duties. Hina was the first woman officer in the IAF to apply for the flight engineer’s course when she was posted at Jamnagar and this step was well appreciated by her colleagues as well as seniors. The family has stood by her at all times and backed all her decisions. During the course of six months of grueling training, she trained shoulder to shoulder with her male counterparts and displayed unflinching commitment, dedication, and perseverance. Hina describes her achievement as a “dream come true”.