Newly-graduated officers celebrate after their graduation ceremony at Air Force Academy Dundigal, in Hyderabad on Saturday

HYDERABAD: Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa struck a nostalgic chord, recalling he was among the 35 flight cadets who earned their ‘prestigious wings’ after passing out from the Air Force Academy at Dundigal, near here, 40 years ago even as he heaped praise on 13 women cadets for successfully completing the course in flying colours.

After reviewing the combined graduation parade on Saturday wherein a total of 113 flight cadets, including 13 women, graduated as flying officers, Dhanoa said: “It is a very nostalgic moment for me as exactly 40 years ago I passed out from this academy. Out of the 70 flight cadets who were trained, only 35 received the wings. I am very happy to learn that 13 women cadets have successfully completed the course and a woman cadet had stood first in overall order of merit in ground duty.” Congratulating the flying officers, he stressed to point out: “It is a matter of pride and honour to review the combined graduation parade and welcome the fine men and women into the Indian Air Force as military aviation leaders.” He further said: “There will be a young girl somewhere and at someplace who will have her eyes looking at your performance.”

Eighty pilots, six navigators and 27 ground duty officers got their coveted wings and brevets along with six Indian Navy officers and five officers of Indian Coast Guard. Abhishek Bajpai and Banti were awarded the President’s plaque for standing first in overall order of merit in navigation and ground duty branches respectively.