I was born in Pathankot. My father, who was in the army, was posted there. Later, he took voluntary retirement and settled in Vijaywada. I did my schooling in Vijaywada. Since my childhood, I wanted to be a pilot. Other children used to make fun of me for this. Kids, at that time, were pushed to pursue engineering or become a doctor but not a pilot. But luckily, my parents never forced their choice on me. They were supportive and progressive in their thinking. My mother always used to encourage me . However, my relatives and my family friends were against my decision to become a pilot. Also, at that time, being a pilot was not considered as a profession for woman.
The initial struggle
I come from a modest background. My family faced financial issues. Since I grew up in Vijaywada, I could write and read English but speaking English was a major challenge that I had to overcome. Right after 12th, when I was 17 years old, I got through Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA), the flying school in Uttar Pradesh. We took a loan for my education. The cultural change from a small town to a big city was overwhelming for me. I had difficulty adjusting and speaking English. People used to mock me for my poor English and that hurt me a lot. At times, I thought of going back. However, I didn’t. With my parents’ support, I worked hard enought to win a scholarship.
|Anny started flying the Boeing 737 at the age of 19.|
The flight to victory
I had completed my training when I was 19 years old. As soon as I finished my training, I got a job with Air India. During that period, for the first time, I went abroad. I was sent to Spain for training. When I came back, I got the opportunity to fly Boeing 737. Ever since then, there has been no looking back. When I turned 21, I was sent to London for further training. It was then when I started to fly Boeing 777. Since then, my life has changed. It’s been a great experience so far. I’ve got the opportunity to travel to various countries. My journey so far has taught me a lot.
An agent of change
Although this profession is still male dominated, the perception that this profession is not for women has already changed to a large extent. I am proud to say that India has taken lead over rest of the world including developed countries, when it comes to number of female pilots. In India, 15% woman fly as airline pilots, while globally, it is an average of approximately 5%.
Advice for upcoming woman pilots
Your parents are your biggest support , so trust them to keep you grounded. And last but not the least –there’s no substitute for hard work.
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