Shaliza Dhami is an officer of the Indian Air Force. She made headlines in March 2023 after she became the first woman officer to assume the command of a frontline IAF missile squadron deployed at the Line of Control (LOC).
Shaliza Dhami was born in 1982 (age 41 years; as of 2023) in Ludhiana, Punjab, India. After completing high school at the Government High School, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, she enrolled at the Khalsa College for Women, where she completed classes 11 and 12. Thereafter, she earned a bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering from the same college. The Indian Express While pursuing graduation, she joined the air wing of the National Cadet Corps (NCC). There, she attended many camps organised by the NCC and learnt how to fly a glider. While serving as a cadet with the NCC, she was motivated by her instructor P. P. Singh to join the IAF. In an interview, while talking about it, her parents said,
What made all the difference was her decision to join the Air Wing of the National Cadet Corps (NCC). Her mentor P P Singh, who was from IAF, motivated her to give it a try and there was no looking back. NCC played a pivotal role in her life and decision to join IAF. We never stopped her from attending NCC camps which were held at different locations. She used to enjoy and learn so much in her NCC camps.”
After completing her formal education, she joined the Air Force Academy in Dundigal, Telangana.
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Harkesh Dhami, is a retired Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) employee. Her mother, Dev Kumari, is a retired Water Supply and Sanitation Department official. Her brother, Sarvsureshth Dhami, is a defence studies professor at a university in Imphal, Manipur.
Husband & Children
Her husband, Vineet Joshi, is a wing commander of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The couple has two sons.
In 2003, she took her first solo flight in a HAL HPT-32 Deepak, while undergoing training at the Air Force Academy in Dundigal, Telangana. After completing her training module, Shaliza Dhami was commissioned as a flying officer on a short service commission in the IAF’s helicopter branch on 20 December 2003.
She became a flight lieutenant on 20 December 2005. She received a promotion and became a squadron leader on 20 December 2009. On 20 December 2016, she was promoted to the rank of wing commander. Thereafter, she attended the Flying Instructors School in Chennai, Tamil Nadu from where she passed out as a qualified instructor, becoming the first Indian woman flying instructor. On 18 December 2018, she became the first IAF woman officer to be granted a permanent commission. In August 2019, she was posted to the Hindon Air Force Station in Ghaziabad, where she took charge of a Chetak helicopters unit as a flight commander, becoming the first woman officer to assume the post. India Today
Thereafter, she was posted to the operations branch of a frontline headquarters of the IAF. On 20 December 2019, she received a promotion and became a group captain; Shaliza was amongst the few IAF women officers selected to become group captains. In March 2023, Shaliza Dhami became the first woman officer to assume the command of a combat unit, a missile squadron, of the Indian Air Force deployed along the India-Pakistan border. As of March 2023, Shaliza has clocked around 2,800 hours of flying helicopters.
- Despite being pressurized to enrol Shaliza in a convent school, her father enrolled her in a government school. Talking about it, in an interview, her father said,
I owned a cycle at that time. The kids who study in a convent school, their parents come to drop them off in swanky cars. I decided that my children will study in the school where children of common men like me study. Had I admitted her to a convent, she might have had an inferiority complex. So, we admitted her to a government school. And look where she has reached today.”
- Shaliza Dhami has received the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Commendation Card twice.
- She used to play hockey in school and took a keen interest in dancing and painting.