Rakesh Sharma— Wing Commander, Indian Air Force (Retired)
Rakesh Sharma is a former Wing Commander in the Indian Air Force, who was selected for the Joint Indo-Soviet Space Mission, 1984, culminating in an 8 day Near Earth orbit Space Flight. He became the first Indian to travel to Outer Space. The Government of India conferred him with its highest gallantry award (during peace time), the Ashoka Chakra. He wsa also awarded The Hero of The Soviet Union and The Order of Lenin by the erstwhile Soviet Government. He returned and served as Flight Commandor of a front line operational Jaguar Strike squadron. He then served as the Chief Test Pilot of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
Retired from flying in July 2001 after spending 24 years in Flight Testing. During a 33 year long flying career, has flown over 4,000 hours on various types of fighter aircraft like the Mirage –2000, F -16, F-18, Jaguar, Mig – 27, Mig – 23, Mig – 21, Canberra, Gnat, HF-24 Marut, Hunter etc.. Has also flown transport aircraft like the HS-748 and Caribou.
He then joined the IT industry and was Chief Operations Officer at Automated Workflow a BPM company located at Bangalore. Today, he is the Chairman of the Board of Directors, AWPL, Bangalore.