President Patil makes history by flying in a Sukhoi (Lead)November 25th, 2009 - 12:46 pm ICT by IANS
Pune, Nov 25 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil created history by becoming the first woman president to fly in a fighter jet, the Sukhoi-30MKI of the Indian Air Force (IAF), here Wednesday morning.
The aircraft commanded by Wing Commander S. Sajan took off smoothly in the slightly chilly, but sunny early winter morning from the Lohegaon Air Force base on the outskirts of the state’s IT and academic capital at around 10.55 a.m.
During the approximately 40 minute sortie, the aircraft would fly at an altitude of 10,000 feet at a speed of around 800 kmph or 0.9 Mach, but will not achieve the supersonic levels of around 1,100 kmph, an IAF spokesman said.
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, 74, had breakfast and underwent a mandatory pre-flight medical test and was found fit to undertake the flight.
After the medical test, she donned a G-Suit (anti-gravity suit) which helps the flier withstand high gravitational pressure by preventing excessive blood from flowing to the brain.
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.
She stepped inside the aircraft at 10.35 a.m., assisted by some airmen even as the national and international media was present in large numbers to cover the historic event.
Present to witness the epoch-making occasion were Maharashtra Governor S.C. Jamir and Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik.
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