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Two Indian Pilots Embark On Flying Trip Across World

Two Indian pilots trip across world

Two young women are all set to script world history as they fly a motor-glider aircraft touching three continents and covering more than 40,000 km in 100 days. This circumnavigation of the world by these pilots is going to make a world record and culminate into an all-woman, non-commercial, civilian expedition.

The two—Aarohi Pandit (22) and Keithair Misquitta (23)—are the first Indian pilots ever to fly a motorglider called “Mahi” around the world. The WE! Expedition was conceptualised by Social Access Communication and executed by a team comprising The Navy Blue Foundation, Aerosource India and NEXUS.

The idea took shape about a year-and-a-half ago. And to know why the WE! Expedition chose to take the flying route, Team WE! told SheThePeople.TV, “Flight is the ultimate symbol of liberation and empowerment and when you couple that with young women pilots, the message becomes a compelling one.”

The expedition team also approached Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi who collaborated with the team to promote the flagship Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign. Through this expedition, the organization is also aiming to provide scholarships to deserving girls across 110 cities and towns in India who will get a chance to enrol in aviation training.

Two Indian female pilots

Maneka Gandhi with WE! Pilots

Aarohi wanted to be a pilot ever since she was five years old. That was when she first saw a lady pilot for the first time. “That’s when I decided that I wanted to become one too and command my own aircraft,” she said.

For Keithair, it was her father’s wish that she fulfilled and started loving for herself. “I was 16, when my father told me that he wanted me to become a pilot. I agreed and even though I was apprehensive at first, once I went on my first flight, there was no looking back,” she told us.

Both the girls are thrilled to experience the world on a two-seater aircraft which they will also fly themselves. “When we first heard about it, we were just so excited that something like this was going to happen out of India. And when the Navy Blue Foundation approached us to become the pilots who would take on this mission, we jumped at the chance,” said Aarohi.

Two Indian female pilots

Mahi- The Motorglider

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Keithair added, “It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime type opportunities that don’t come knocking twice and we knew we had to take it. We are not scared, maybe a little nervous about what lies ahead, but we know we have a solid support system in our mentors, our trip support team, our parents, so we can just focus on flying, which we love.”

One leg at a time

Talking about their expectations from the expedition, the girls said, “We are taking it one leg at a time. Each and every leg or sortie takes a lot of preparation and planning. You cannot think beyond the task at hand and all the various factors that need to be in place to help you get from point A to point B.

Travelling on a small, light, low-flying plane (we cannot fly above 10,000ft), we are very excited that we’re going to get a bird’s eye view of the world. We won’t get much time to do sightseeing when we’re on the ground. But wherever we do, we’re going to try and experience something off the beaten track. Also on a personal note, we’ve been best friends for more than four years now, and this is like the craziest road trip you can take with your bestie!”

The girls have already started their journey. They reached Ahmedabad from Kishangarh on Monday. They have undergone intensive training both with Pipistrel, the manufacturers of the plane, as well as under WE! Expedition Director, Wg Cmdr (retd.) Rahul Monga, who is a world record holder for the fastest circumnavigation in a microlight.

“We’ve been best friends for more than four years now, and this is like the craziest roadtrip you can take with your bestie”

Asked what this journey means to them, they said, “The expedition is the most important thing we’ve done in our lives so far and we’re doing it not just for ourselves, but to show the world what we Indian girls are made of! Our most important mission is to raise funds for the WE! Udaan Scholarship, which will help hundreds of girls from small towns and cities in our country pursue careers in aviation – whether it is a pilot, or as an engineer or a technician.”

The team is taking care of the girls’ safety wherever they reach. “First and foremost, the type of plane we have chosen for this has already done a circumnavigation before (by veteran aviator Matevz Lenarcic) – she is safe, sturdy, reliable and is armed with a ballistic parachute system and is made of Kevlar composites,” said Team WE!.

“And then, for the actual expedition, we have the highly experienced team at NEXUS Flight Ops handling all our trip support and flight planning across the world,” they added.

We salute the two pilots and wish them a safe return after completing the circumnavigation.