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A first: IAF selects woman officer in car rally team 

New Delhi, February 21
For the first time, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has selected a woman officer in its team participating in an annual desert car rally starting tomorrow.

“Squadron Leader Jyothi Yerolkar would be part of IAF's lead Sky Hawks team in the rally and would pair up with Wing Commander S Swami, a Jaguar pilot. IAF is fielding three Sky Hawks teams along with a support team,” an IAF spokesperson said.

Yerolkar, who joined IAF in 2007 as a doctor, had to go through a tough selection process that tested her driving and navigation skills and knowledge of the vehicle.

Starting from Ahmedabad, the five-day rally will have a 2,400-km route that includes Bhuj and Naliya in Gujarat and Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur in Rajasthan before culminating in Delhi on February 27. As many as 156 teams are participating in the desert expedition.

“I used to drive out in my Dad's car while still in sixth standard, and by eight I was an expert on bikes,” said Squadron Leader Yerolkar, who is married to a software engineer based in the US and has two daughters aged eight and four years.

Initially, she prepared for the rally on her own Tata Safari, she said.

An expert gynaecologist, Yerolkar left the lucrative option of running her family-owned hospital in Bidar, Karnataka, and joined IAF as a Short-Service Commission officer. Soon after joining in the rank of Flight Lieutenant, she was promoted to the post of Squadron Leader on basis of her MD degree.

The other two IAF teams have Wing Commander Ajay Pratap, a navigator pairing up with Flight Lieutenant Rahul Sahni, and Squadron Leader Rajender Chaudhary, a Fighter Controller with Junior Warrant Officer AK Singh. — PTI





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