Captain Aarohi Pandit received a warm and enthusiastic welcome as she successfully touched down in her plane Mahi VT NBF, a Pipistrel Sinus weighing only 330 kg, at Juhu Aerodrome, Mumbai, India’s first Civil Airport recently. The young captain took off at 9:30 am from the Bhuj runway that the women of Madhapar rebuilt within 72 hours during the Indo-Pak war to a moving letter signing and flag-off ceremony by the women on the runway they built 50 years ago. Without current technology like GPS, autopilot or computerised equipment, Aarohi always flew below 7000 feet above mean sea level. Operating the same route from Kutch to Mumbai, with less than 60 litres of petrol for an estimated 5 hours of flying over the 500 nautical mile distance, Aarohi brought a special letter from the 1971 Indo-Pak war women heroes of Madhapar village in Gujarat to the young women of suburban villages, in Mumbai, Maharashtra, in recalling the 25 kg of mails that JRD Tata carried on his flight. Here is an exclusive interview with Captain Aarohi Pandit, where she shares her experience.
Could you describe your journey to become the world’s first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic?
I embarked on this historic adventure 2018, flying a small light-sport aircraft called “Mahi” for over 20,000 miles from India. For this journey, preparation had a keen role. My team and I meticulously planned the route to prepare for this challenging flight, obtained the necessary permit clearances and ensured the aircraft was in top condition. Flying across the Atlantic presented numerous challenges, including long stretches of open water, unpredictable weather and the need for precise navigation. I had to overcome these challenges with skill and resilience. This required piloting skills and mental strength to cope with the isolation and long hours in the cockpit. On May 13, 2019, I completed my solo flight across the Atlantic, landing in Iqaluit, Canada. Sky One FZE’s Pier Seven Aviation is renowned for its exceptional training programs.
What distinguishes Pier Seven’s training from the rest and how have your world-record flying experiences enriched your ability to provide this training?
My experience with the Pier Seven training institute was both educational and practical. I enrolled in their program to gain hands-on experience in operating complex machines. The instructors were knowledgeable and patient, guiding me through simulations mimicking real-flight scenarios. The training institute provided simulators that closely replicated the equipment we would encounter in our future careers. This immersive experience helped me build confidence and improve my skills without the risks associated with live machinery. Overall, my time at Sky One FZE’s Pier Seven Aviation was invaluable in preparing me for my chosen profession. I left with a strong foundation and a sense of readiness to tackle the industry’s challenges.
Why do you want to become a commercial pilot for an Airbus A320? What prompted you to choose this training facility?
The Airbus A320 is a popular choice due to its career prospects, technological advancements and efficiency in the aviation industry. Choosing the right training facility is crucial for a successful career as an Airbus A320 pilot, so thorough research and consideration are key. PIER7’s reputation and student feedback are what made me choose the institute.
The qualifications and experience of their instructors, the training curriculum, including simulator hours, ground school, flight training and the facility’s location for convenience and accessibility.
Can you share how the training at Sky One FZE’s Pier Seven Aviation has prepared you for the future?
Simulator flight training is a valuable part of pilot education. Training with Sky One FZE’s Pier Seven Aviation provided me with a safe and controlled environment for practising various flight scenarios and procedures. The training included various methods and conditions, including adverse weather, system failures and emergencies, which helped me develop critical decision-making skills and learn how to handle unexpected situations. Overall, simulator flight training is an essential component of modern aviation education. It offered me an environment for honing skills, building confidence and preparing for real-world flying experiences. The Indian Women Pilots Association says India has the world’s highest number of women pilots.
What do you think is the reason for this and what advice do you have for young females who want to become pilots?
The high number of women pilots in India may be attributed to increasing awareness, changing societal attitudes and supportive policies. India’s high number of female pilots is a testament to the changing landscape of the aviation industry. With dedication and support, young females can achieve their aspirations of becoming pilots and contribute to the growing diversity in this field. My advice for young females aspiring to become pilots will be to be determined, focus on education, research training programs, network with professionals, prioritise physical fitness, stay persistent and stay informed about the industry.
What is your message to the youth in India? What can they learn from your life?
Youth in India must believe in their dreams and never be limited by their gender or circumstances. My journey to become the world’s first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic was filled with challenges, but it’s proof that you can achieve the seemingly impossible with passion, perseverance and hard work. Embrace opportunities in aviation or any field you’re passionate about and let nothing hold you back. From my life, youngsters in India can learn the importance of determination, resilience and breaking through barriers to achieve their goals, regardless of gender or any other obstacles they may encounter.