A team of female Indian pilots have taken women in aviation to new heights when they managed to complete the longest non-stop commercial flight operated by an Indian national airline.
The record flight, which was a 17-hour-long journey from San Francisco to Bengaluru in southern India was completed on January 11, by a team made up of an all-female cockpit crew.
Captain Zoya Aggarwal, commander of the flight described the achievement to CNN Travel as ‘a new chapter in the Indian aviation history.’
She went on to say, ‘I’m extremely proud to be a part of this and I have been personally preparing for more than a year for this flight.’
The Air India flight was completed in a Boeing 777 and departed from San Francisco on Monday, before arriving in Bengaluru at 3.07am India Standard Time. The journey covered more than 13 840 kilometres and even saw the flight make its way over the North Pole.
‘The view from the North Pole is superb,’ said Aggarwal’s co-pilot, Captain Thanmei Papagari, who flew the second half of the journey, to CNN.
Along with becoming the first all-female crew to complete India’s longest non-stop commercial flight, the journey also represents the first direct flight from South India to the United States, according to Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru.
‘We are the first Airport in South India with a direct, non-stop flight to [the] USA.,’ the airline said.
Surprisingly, Aggarwal almost never became a pilot in the first place, as her parents strongly opposed the idea. ‘When I initially told my parents I remember the tears in my mom’s eyes because I was expected to ”walk in the shadow of men” according to society. But I told my parents that this is what I want to do, and I broke away from the norms’, she said. Because Aggarwal chose to follow her dreams instead of just conforming to societal norms, she, along with her crew will now go down in history for their achievement.
India’s Minister of Civil Aviation, Hardeep Puri, took to Twitter to congratulate the all-female pilot crew on their achievement, writing, ‘In a moment to cherish & celebrate, women professionals of Indian civil aviation create history.’
In a moment to cherish & celebrate, women professionals of Indian civil aviation create history.
Heartiest Congratulations to Capt Zoya Aggarwal, Capt Papagari Thanmai, Capt Akansha Sonaware & Capt Shivani for flying over North Pole to land in Bengaluru from San Francisco. pic.twitter.com/P6EvJChMGB
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 11, 2021