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President trades sari for G-suit, flies in fighter jet
Pune, Nov 25 (IANS):
Published on 26 Nov. 2009 1:33 AM IST
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President Pratibha Patil looked natty in an olive green G-suit instead of her usual sari Wednesday and flew in a Sukhoi Su-30 jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF), calling her experience wonderful and unique and said a decision to induct women into the fighter stream would be considered. An elated Patil, 74, flashed a victory sign and a beaming smile as she alighted after a nearly 30-minute subsonic (less than the speed of sound) flight. She then shook hands with all the air warriors present at the Lohegaon Air Base here. Asked later if she was planning to go supersonic in her next flight, Patil said: “Why not? Yes, of course.” “There was not any sort of apprehension, but there was excitement. I was, right from the beginning, very confident,” Patil told reporters after the sortie. Maharashtra Governor S.C. Jamir and Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik were present on the occasion. Patil looked strikingly different in her olive green G-suit and IAF cap, saying later that she had prepared for it both mentally and physically with her regular yoga routine. “Today I had a wonderful and unique experience. I am reassured that we are well equipped and they (the armed forces) have the strength to protect our border. I feel proud at this moment...the aircraft was very sophisticated. I was instructed by the pilot how to manoeuvre and I could do that.” “Today I am proud and every Indian should be proud of the ability and the spirit of sacrifice and the talent and capability of our defence forces. I have all admiration for them,” said Patil. The president said she has been preparing for over two months for the flight in the Russian-built twin-engine jet. “I usually do yoga, treadmill. Then they (IAF officials) came and told me what precautions are to be taken. Otherwise also I am quite regular in my daily life. May be that helped me. They (IAF officials) familiarised me with everything. I was confident when I got into the cockpit,” said Patil when asked about her fitness regime. Wing Commander S. Sajan flew the president, who is the supreme commander of the Indian armed forces. Sajan, the commanding officer of the No.30 Squadron (the Rhinos), has over 3,200 hours of flying experience in various aircraft. The sortie on a sunny morning took the aircraft to an altitude of 10,000 feet at a speed of around 1,100 kmph or 0.9 Mach (the speed of sound).

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