Ayesha Farooq is the first female fighter pilot of Pakistan and South Asia. The lady pilot is one of the few women who have joined the Pakistan Air Force as female fighters in the last decade.
Farooq is a flight lieutenant from Hasilpur, Bahawalpur. After passing the final examinations to qualify, she became the first lady fighter pilot of Pakistan in 2013.
She now flies missions aboard a Chinese-made Chengdu J-7 fighter aircraft along with Squadron 20’s 24 male colleagues.
“I don’t feel any different. We carry out the same operations, including precise bombing.” Farooq, 31, says of working in a male-dominated field.
“Because of terrorism and our geographical location it’s very important that we stay on our toes,” she said in a previous interview.
“In our society, most girls don’t even think about doing such things as flying an aircraft.”
Ayesha Farooq has made history by becoming the first lady pilot assigned to one of Pakistan’s front-line dogfighting squadrons.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph at the Pakistan Air Force headquarters in Islamabad, the female fighter pilot stated, “If war breaks out, I’ll be flying on my senior’s wing as his wingman, well, wing woman.”
She has become a role model for millions of Pakistani girls in the process.
In other respects, though, Flight Lt Ayesha Farooq is a conventional Pakistani woman and is married to her cousin.
Farooq explained, “Life at PAF wasn’t only about tough training and cruel seniors; it also featured enjoyable memories with friends.”
In answer to a query regarding the physical training required at the flying school, Farooq quickly explained: “Every morning at approximately 4:30 a.m., you have to get up for a one-mile run – so you’d run first and then wake up.”
She went on to say that they had to carry an MG3, a four-kilogram machine gun, for two hours.
She stated: “You wouldn’t think 4kg is heavy.” “However, if you carry anything that heavy for two hours, you will realize it is.”
Instead of looking up to role models, the combat pilot advised young women to become one themselves.
She urged women and girls to leave their homes, assuring them that men and women could compete on an equal footing.
According to Farooq, it was a difficult task for her. The first step, she believes, is usually the most difficult. She even encountered hostility at home. Then, because of her gender, she had to labor even harder.
She recalled that when she first joined the air force, she had to show to her male colleagues that she was also knowledgeable about munitions and planes. She says that when you’re the lone woman in a male-dominated field, everyone is looking at you.
Everyone thought she won’t be able to pull it off but she was well aware of what it meant to struggle, says the first lady fighter pilot of Pakistan.
When she was three years old, her father went away. Farooq’s mother brought up her siblings and her in a highly competitive setting. However, this does not imply that her air force colleagues and superiors discouraged her.
According to Farooq, her colleagues were there to support her every step of the way. She believes that Pakistan’s AirForce is an outstanding organization. It never made her feel like she was being judged.
Farooq has broken the glass ceiling by fighting in the war, enduring hard training, dealing with “tough seniors,” and living in a nation – or world – where females are generally referred to as the second sex.
Farooq’s mother, a housewife, and widow, who is “the ultimate image of courage” for her, said she was inspired by her mother. She became a slim-framed and soft-spoken combat pilot.
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