India’s Youngest Pilot, A Woman, is from Kashmir!!

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Jammu and Kashmir News

Ayesha Aziz hails from Khawaja Bagh in Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir, and in pursuit of her childhood dream of becoming a pilot finally has succeeded in becoming the youngest pilot in India and the first female from Kashmir to have achieved this feat. She is just 20-years-old!

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As a child, she would always be excited and run out of home every time she heard a plane cruising in the air. But unlike other kids, she would also dream about becoming a pilot. Few years later, her family moved to Mumbai.

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With time she became more and more passionate about her dream. The  support of her parents, who stood like a rock beside her, guided her in all her pursuits. Her father encouraged her to enroll for flying classes at the young age of 15, just after finishing her class 10th standard exams. In fact, the first time she entered the cockpit of a plane was when she was 16 years and 3 months old. She flew Cessna 172R in January 2012. Like any other parents they do worry about her safety whenever she flies, but this anxiety does not mean they dissuade her from flying.

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While she was in 12th standard at Christ Church School, Mumbai, she got an opportunity to be a part of the three-member team to visit NASA. There she met John McBride and participated in activities like scuba diving, moon walking and bunny walk – all essential for an astronaut to know. She even got to meet Sunita Williams, whom she idolized so much. She shared her experiences of NASA with her. Her happiness knew no bounds.

In order to attain two licences – Student Pilot Licence (SPL) and Flight Radio Telephone Operator’s License (FRTOL) – Ayesha attended classes twice a week or on weekends in addition to school. This took more than four months and she bagged both.  She got her Student Pilot Licence one month after she turned 16, setting the record of the youngest woman pilot in India. Prior to that there were ground classes and five rounds of viva. The commercial pilot licence got delayed due to some financial issues.

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She then joined Bombay Flying Club with 40 other students where she was treated like a baby, being the youngest. She enjoyed being pampered while holding her head high with the other three woman pilots. To get the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) one has to finish 80 hours of the total 200 hours. It is to be noted that the minimum age eligibility for this licence is 18 though she was hoping to get it at 17 years of age. She turned 18 on 3rd October before getting the licence.

She flies single engine Cessna 152 and Cessnal 172. Flying costs Rs10, 000 (Dh598.16) per hour for single engine aircraft and Rs 35,000 per hour for multi-engine one. She has crossed this barrier, too. Once she bags her CPL, she would like to join an Indian airline, moving on to foreign flights in future.

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When people ask her what if the plane crashes and she dies? She brushes this concern aside by saying that death has no fixed time or location. One can die of a heart attack while sleeping in home, or in a car accident, or due to the vagaries of nature. Living in constant fear of death which is unpredictable is living like a dead person anyway.

She always wanted to do something unconventional and challenging. Soaring high in the sky made it clearer each time that this was her aim in life. Ayesha has set an example worth emulating for youngsters in India – to chase and attain their dreams despite all barriers and cynicism of spectators!

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