Child's wish gets wings

Paotei Sele Roveinai and (right) Anupreet Kaur at an event organised by airline operators’ committee to celebrate International Women’s Day on Thursday. Picture by Mayukh Sengupta

Airport: Anupreet Kaur's house is adjacent to the Amritsar airport and one of her childhood delights was to see from her terrace aeroplanes landing and taking off.

Anupreet started dreaming of becoming a pilot when she was six or seven and she realised her dream in 2016. The 24-year-old, who had trained at Amritsar Aviation Club, is now a pilot with Jet Airways and flies to international destinations.

"It gives me a sense of equality as a woman when I am in the cockpit with men. The general perception is that flying is men's profession but there are quite a few women pilots, too," she said.

The airline operators committee, Calcutta, awarded Anupreet for being the first woman pilot from Amritsar at a programme held in the old domestic terminal of the city airport on the occasion of International Women's Day on Thursday.

"I had been dreaming to become a pilot since I was a child but I first boarded an aircraft when I was 16. I was travelling to Los Angeles as part of a student exchange programme," Kaur said.

In the months she has been flying, Anupreet hasn't faced any difficult situation in the skies.

One woman pilot, Captain Urmila Yadav of Air India, had weathered such a challenge in June 2012, when she made an emergency landing in Guwahati after the ATR she was piloting lost its nose wheel while taking off from Silchar.

The aircraft with 48 passengers circled Guwahati for about an hour before Captain Yadav made a safe landing without the nose wheel. She had asked the crew to shift some items from the cockpit to the rear to reduce the load on the front portion of the aircraft.

"Till now, my flights have been smooth. But I think I can handle any emergency like my male colleagues," said a confident Kaur.

Altogether 100 women were awarded at the programme - the first of its kind in the city airport - held by the airline operators' committee. Some of them were awarded for long service at the airport.

Women from various airlines, Airports Authority of India, air traffic control (ATC), Central Industrial Security Force, police and other agencies took part in the programme.

More women and their stories on Page 10


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