Hyderabad: Ace badminton player and London Olympics bronze medallist flew a Kiran MK II jet trainer aircraft of the Indian Air Force on Friday at the IAF's training academy at Dundigal in Andhra Pradesh.
Kiran MK II aircraft is being used by the Air Force to train its rookie pilots before they move to fly other fighter and transport aircraft.
Saina's visit is being seen at inspiring the young cadets at the academy to do hard work to achieve their goals in life in the service of the nation.
Expressing her excitement over flying the jet trainer, Nehwal said, "It's a great honour. It was dream come true for me to fly. Everyone in their childhood dream of joining either Air Force or Army. We dream of becoming one of them.
"I never thought I would get an opportunity to fly. It was such a great experience. This encourages me to do even better in badminton," Saina told reporters after the sortie, which lasted for about 20 minutes.
The Olympic bronze medallist admitted that she was initially very scared. "I was a little scared but when I was up I felt happy. He (the pilot) took me into the clouds...I was nervous but happy," she said.
The pilot, Group captain, N Kapoor, who flew Saina, complimented her but said that she was initially nervous.
Saina was briefed about the nuances of flying and cockpit familiarisation before getting into the aircraft.
She was the guest of honour at the closing ceremony of the sports week of the academy. The visit is aimed at inspiring the young cadets to achieve their goals.
In recent years, the IAF has been honouring sportspersons for their achievements in their respective fields and has granted them honorary ranks also.
Sachin Tendulkar was made an honorary Group Captain by the IAF 2011 for his achievements and, along with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was offered a sortie in frontline fighter aircraft SU-30MKI.
(With additional information from PTI)