At 16, Varija Shah got a unique gift on her birthday. She flew a Cessna aircraft on Monday evening when she toured the city for 20 minutes, under the guidance of Charlie Weir, the chief flight instructor of the Gujrat Flying Club. Interestingly, the Class XI girl does not have a licence to drive a two-wheeler.
Passion, dedication and a supportive group of people made her dreams come true. Since class VII, Varija is crazy about planes and now she has successfully co-piloted an aircraft after getting a student pilot licence for her 16th birthday!
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A state and national-level tennis champion, Varija is probably the youngest person in Gujarat to have a student pilot licence and fly a plane.
“I flew Cessna 152 for the first time and it was an awesome experience once we were in air. I could see the entire city below. The instructor gave me all directions about speed and also gave me control of the plane at the high altitude,” a high on happiness Varija told TOI.
Her father, who also wanted to becoming a pilot, inspired Varija to take to the sky. She now aims to become an Indian Air Force pilot.
Last year Varija joined the Gujarat Flying Club, and is thankful to her parents for supporting her dreams. She said, “My parents were supportive of my decision, so I joined Gujarat Flying Club last year. It was a one-year course that included ground training, theory classes and flying plane on simulator. I will get a private pilot licence, join National Cadet Corps and then join the IAF.”
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Group captain (retd), Charlie Weir, the chief flight instructor at Gujarat Flying Club, said, “Varija is a smart and bright student. She will now have to fly regularly to get expertise in flying planes.”
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When Varija’s mother Purvi Mody Shah, a housewife, was asked about her daughter’s passion, she replied, “Varija was always an adventurous soul. Her dad Prashant wanted to be a pilot and I wanted to be a tennis player. Our daughter has fulfilled our dreams. We are proud of her.”
Feature Image Credit: TOI
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