While so many of us may have dreamed as little girls to get those magic wings and fly, these women have done it for real! The women pilots of India are not just doing the nation proud, they are also a great role-model for young girls to look up to in a society that has, for ages, denied women its rights and respect. A society that does not still approve of women entering professions that are considered ‘different’, women pilots in India have sure upped the scale to a much larger extent.
In the pic: 1986 – Captain Saudamini Deshmukh, Captain Durba Banerjee, then PM Rajiv Gandhi, Captain Nivedita Bhasin and Captain Anila Bhatia.
‘When I am flying, I do not think of my home. I have a very supportive husband who doesn’t crib if I don’t make paranthas,’ says one of the very few women helicopter pilots of the country.
But the situation needs much more understanding than the support of a husband back home who understands his wife’s role and is proud of her. While it makes any woman proud to see another woman in uniform, many male flyers, and sometimes even women, express surprise and doubt on knowing their flight is being captained by a female.
‘I feel sad when passengers turn up for their flight and express concern upon seeing a woman passenger.’
Captain Rabia Futehally began her flying lessons in 1962 when her daughter was 09 months old! In 1963 she became the first woman pilot to receive the Private Pilot’s License, earning it before anyone else in her family – her father, her brother and her husband were all taking lessons in flying! At the time she received her license, she didn’t realise that she was the first woman to get it.
Capt. Futehally is also one of the first pilots to have entered the cockpit in a saree! Today her daughters are trained pilots, and though age does not permit her to take long flights any longer, she admits to going with other pilots once in a while for a joyride!