Jaswinder Kaur could have been your usual girl next door from a small town. But she chose a different path. She aimed for the skies and followed her dream to get there. At 12, she had made up her mind -Jaswinder wanted to be a pilot. Living in Delhi by herself, she shares the experience of flying domestic aircrafts. Excerpts from the chat are here:
Was there an inspiration behind your dream to become a pilot?
It was a childhood dream. “I want to fly in the sky.” was the quote written on all of my notebooks on the first page.
You have been a pilot for almost a decade now. Share a bit about your journey.
I started from a small town with no aviation background. In the era when Internet and Google were not available on the tip of our thumbs. To know “how to be a pilot” seemed like a distant fairytale. My ambitions got a kickstart when my Chief Flying Instructor bumped randomly into my father and they got talking. Next thing one knew I had joined the institute of flying in Haryana in Pinjore to train. I started with flying the small yellow two-seater airplane and living my dream of “flying in the sky”
- Jaswinder Kaur
When I started off, there weren’t many jobs for pilots but it was the end of the bad phase in aviation with the advent of low cost carriers. So opportunities were around. Pioneered by Air Deccan which was my first airline, I got my pilot wings as I joined them as a co pilot on the ATR fleet which was a regional turboprop aircraft. This was in December 2005. During the merger of Air Deccan & Kingfisher Airlines in 2008, I got my transition to Airbus A-320 aircraft and then in 2011 with Kingfisher Airlines, I became Captain on Airbus A-320. With the fall of the self declared King of Good Times and specifically Kingfisher Airlines in 2012, I joined Wadia’s Go Airlines in 2013. It has been a good decade with its ups and downs.
Women are handling cockpit and kitchen with equal ease.
What challenges did you face when you started your career in this field? How did you overcome them?
First challenge was having no information on what to do to realise my dream. Coming from a small town and with no aviation background, it was the path I chose to follow based on my instinct and the practical knowledge I got from my instructors and seniors in the flying school.
Being a girl child and eldest of 3 siblings there was a little apprehension in my family especially from my grandmother however my parents were very supportive of me. At the same time I was quite independent in taking my own decisions from travelling all alone to the routine trips to Delhi for my exams or going overseas for multi-engine rating.
If there were problems then there were people, especially, family and friends and my instructors who encouraged me.
“I only wanted to fly in the sky”
Were there many female pilots to inspire you at the start of your career?
When I started my flying training there weren’t many female pilots. When I used to go for my exams one could see 10-15 female pilots in a crowd of 150-200 pilots, though it’s wasn’t as bad as the world wide average which is till date around 5%.
India has the most number of female pilots and there are times when we fly with all-female crew.
What would you say about the women in this field?
Being a pilot at one point was considered to be a male-dominated profession and cabin crew a female-dominated zone, but the role has reversed specially in India more and more women are choosing flying as a pilot than as a cabin crew as their career choice. Like any other job, women are handling cockpit and kitchen with equal ease.
What does progress mean to you?
Progress for me is in the continuous process of learning something new every day.
Who has been that one person who keeps you motivated in your career and otherwise?
More than any person it was my childhood dream which has kept me going.