Nivedita Bhasin has many reasons to be proud of herself and her daughter Niharika. Since joining Indian Airlines as its third woman pilot in 1984, when she had just celebrated her 21st birthday and began flying the Fokker Friendship F27 as a co-pilot, Nivedita has gone higher and higher on the professional horizon — from flying Boeing B737, Airbus A300, Airbus A330 and now Dreamliner Boeing 787.
Nivedita, who became the world’s youngest woman Jet captain in 1989, is proud of her journey, especially since she had to overcome many roadblocks to make a place for herself in a male-dominated profession back in the eighties when she started. “In my early days, it was a life full of struggle, trying to carve a niche in the male dominated profession as well as striking a balance between home and work. But it has been a very satisfying journey and I’m grateful to my airline for giving me this wonderful opportunity,” she says.
And Nivedita grabbed every opportunity she got with both hands. “In my 35 years’ career, I have over 22,000 hours of flying. I was the co-pilot in the world’s first all-woman crew flight in 1985 and since then, have flown many all-woman crew flights. I have also been a training captain on the A300, A330 as well as a Type Rating Instructor on the B787.” Her daughter chose to tread the same path Nivedita had chosen, but away from the shadow of her mother. Niharika joined IndiGo in 2013. “At that time husband, son and I were all with Air India. Even before Niharika started her flying training, she had made a conscious decision to join a different airline. She did not want to be in the shadow of her flying family,” she says.
“In 1984 there were only three women pilots in India and today, India leads the world in the percentage of women airline pilots at 13%,” says Nivedita. “A strong will and an invincible determination can accomplish every dream.”— Kumar Vikram