Reach For The Skies: These Asian Women Are Flying Drones Through The Glass Ceiling

As new rules are announced for the fast-growing UAV sector, here are some women drone pilots you should know who are leading innovative solutions.

Tanvi Akhauri
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With every new height they reach, women drone pilots prove that the sky truly is the limit for dreams. Sans gender barriers. In a largely male-dominated field, a few women have risen to claim space for themselves as leading experts in the rapidly growing, modern technology field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

This sector of aircraft flying, having proved its utility, is fast gaining legitimacy across professions of journalism, military, agriculture, photography. Several countries in Asia have outlined ethical and legal perimeters inside which drones can operate. For India, the government Thursday revamped the rules pertaining to drone flying, bringing in some well-received relaxations.

Under the regulations announced by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, drone licenses will now be easier to acquire, heavier payloads will be allowed, and paperwork has been considerably reduced. Observing the role of unmanned aircraft in providing emergency relief and increasing rural accessibility, the Ministry said drones would be "significant creators of employment and economic growth."

Some Women Drone Pilots To Look Out For: 

1. Squadron Leader Varsha Kukreti 

A retired Indian Air Force officer, Squadron Leader Varsha Kukreti is the founder and CEO of AutomicroUAS Aerotech, an establishment that aims at using drone-based remote sensing to foster growth in the agricultural sector. The organisation claims to offer pioneering solutions in evolving drone flying technologies.

Along with her husband, retired fighter pilot and Group Captain MJ Augustine Vinod, Kukreti is leading the front to spread awareness about drone innovations in the country.


As per a Times of India report earlier this year, the Indian Army refuted claims by Kukreti's company that suggested a drone made by them was used in the 2016 surgical strike at LOC. The couple, keeping their drone reportedly brought back by the forces as a souvenir, stood by their claims.

2. Jane Liu  

Jane Liu is notably the first woman in China to fly the senseFly eBee drone, a powerful gadget used for aerial mapping. According to the company, she has been associated with them since 2013 and significantly contributed to functions promoting the field of drones.

Praising the "safety and efficiency" of their flagship product, which she claims is a one-of-its-kind fixed-wing drone, Liu says in an interview that its convenient make paves the way for tapping a bigger market "especially for women." Her expert knowledge in the field leads her to believe artificial intelligence (AI) tools and 5G technology is set to make drone use far superior.

3. Sonal Baid 

A youth leader in the expanding drone sector, Sonal Baid is an aeronautical engineer based in the United States armed with knowledge and experience in unmanned aerial system operations. Formerly with Kittyhawk (now Aloft), an industry leader committed to making drone flight reliable, Baid is now with Axon Air that provides end-to-end drone solutions.


In a 2018 interview, Baid said her passion for flying machines sparked in childhood during outings with her father. She aspires to continue offering key participation in the drone revolution of the tech field and help shape it both in India and the US.

The UAV space is "an industry where women are a rare species," she says, but adds things are "not that bad." The need is to encourage more girls and women to join STEM by elevating success stories that challenge the gender barrier.

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