Sunday, October 07, 2018

‘Sea and silence’: Women pilots recount record flight

Though they are pilots, they didn’t imagine that they would one day fly across the world in a small aircraft and become first Indian women to achieve this feat.
Selected for the expedition by a private firm Social Access Communications, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Aarohi Pandit and Keithair Misquitta completed a month-long journey navigating challenging terrains. They landed in Mumbai on Friday, tired to the bone. “We were looking for young pilots to do this and we identified them. The small size of the plane makes it a challenge,” Debkanya Dhar from Social Access Communications told Mirror.
On July 30, 22-year-old Aarohi and 24-year-old Keithair began the expedition from Patiala to fly light sport aircraft named ‘Mahi’ (registered as VTNBF). “We had so many people messaging us, supporting us on social media. Never in our wildest dreams had we thought that we would go across the world in a small aircraft meant for leisure flying. It was a huge challenge. We were just two girls flying with two bags full of aircraft tools!” Keithair said.
Aarohi and Keithair trained at the Bombay Flying Club and received special coaching to fly the light sport aircraft in Serbia. Aarohi added another feather in her cap by becoming the first Indian woman pilot to have flown solo over the Atlantic Ocean in the aircraft.
“It was beautiful to have the sparkling blue ocean everywhere. When the engine fails while flying on land, you can still land, but flying over the ocean, you have nowhere to land. In the flight that lasted five and a half hours, I saw land only for 40 minutes while landing and take-off. The rest of the journey was just water and silence around 3,000 feet above sea level,” Aarohi said.
07/10/18  Rahi Gaikwad/Mumbai Mirror

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