The third batch of female fighter jet pilots will soon begin their service with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force, after graduating from the PLA Air Force Harbin Flight Academy.
A total of 38 female high school graduates were recruited for the pilot training program, after being selected from hundreds of thousands of applicants. All of them scored highly in the college entrance exam, and have passed the strict physical examination which includes more than 100 tests.
“It’s a one-in-a-million pick, but it doesn’t mean an end to your worries” is the message female cadets were given following their recruitment. The program has an intense selection process that saw about two thirds of candidates eliminated by August last year.
The cadets remind themselves, “You have to forget about your gender if you want to improve your performance.”
A cadet named Wang Yan told Beijing Morning Post that she has to complete a 10-kilometer run, two 3-kilometer runs, two 1.5-kilometer runs and multiple 400-meter runs on a daily basis. In addition, she has to cover plenty of other physical training including parallel bars and practicing how to body-roll.
Apart from physical training, the cadets also face complicated and intricate theoretical studies. They have to finish nearly 20 courses on aviation theory before they begin real flight training.
The most difficult part about their training is that the requirements are the same for female and male cadets. “Though the male cadets are physically stronger, the girls never back down,” said Li Kui, one of the trainers at the academy.
The female cadets have to fly seven hours and complete 20 take-offs and landings each day. “But I have never seen them complaining,” said a trainer named Zheng Qiang.
The role of a fighter jet pilot is a high-risk job, as these female cadets have known since they first registered for the program, and they are aware of future challenges.
“My mother was worried about me when I first enrolled, saying it's not a suitable job for a girl, but she has now changed her mind and is proud of me,” said Liu Yang, who will graduate soon.