Tuesday, 27 September 2016

First indian woman commercial pilot - Ms. Prem Mathur

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Indian women, not withstanding many difficulties that they face in a tradition-bound society like India, time and now prove that their place is no longer  home and hearth, and they  can show their hidden talents in many fields that are dominated by men. They already started looking skyward and many Indian women  are working as pilots in the commercial sector as well as in the Air force. In the last several decades, they have made a long leap, achieving success  with hard work and indomitable spirit and no body could ever think of their sustained upward mobility in whatever field they are working with. Long ago there were not that many pilots in India, the reason being women were not encouraged to get in to that field, which was considered as  male's domain. But, nowadays numerous Indian women work as pilots both in the private  and public airline companies.  Initially women were working in the cabin, taking care of the passenger's needs. Today they made a big jump from the cabin to  the cockpit. It all started  with  one Ms. Prem Mathur  whose continued efforts and passion  made her become the first Indian woman commercial pilot in 1951, exactly 4 years after India's freedom from the British. Indeed  a  great feat in those years of conservatism and restricted movements for Indian women.  Above in the Indian sky, woman in the cockpit  was unthinkable in the 1940s and 1950s. Certainly in the area of commercial flying Ms. Mathur was a trailblazer. 

timesofindia.indiatimes.com
India's first commercial pilot Prem Mathur. thehindu.com

After receiving the  pilot's flying license  in 1947 from Allahabad Flying Club, her ambition was to join a commercial airliner as a pilot.  Incidentally, she was first Indian woman to have received  a commercial pilot's license in India. In the initial stages, the results were not encouraging,  she kept receiving a barrage of regret letters from the commercial  airline companies. The commercial airliners, it is said, did not want to take risk by employing women pilots. Their excuse was the passengers won't be comfortable sitting in the airliner with women in the cockpit. This kind of misconception was very much there and it was rooted in the fact that women won't  as quickly respond to emergency situation as men  would do. Simply speaking, women pilots were not good enough to handle a real emergency situation  that might develop while flying as it was different  from handling emergency situation in a simulated environment on the ground.
timesofindia.indiatimes.com
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As for Ms. Prem Mathur, that was not the end of the world. Now she became more serious about joining a commercial airliner  at any cost and her positive approach coupled with sincere efforts, at last, paid off. Deccan Airways of Hyderabad at the interview asked her all kinds of questions about  sophisticated electronic and mechanical control and being knowledgeable as she was, initially she was hired as a co-pilot in 1951. Earlier she won the air race in 1949 conducted by the Aero Club. 

However, the company was reluctant to giver her full command of the cockpit  even after fulfillment of the required  hours of flying by her. While with Deccan,  she had the opportunity to fly distinguished personalities like Lal Bahadur Shastry, Indira Gandhi, Lady Mountbatten etc.  A disappointed Mathur  left the job and later became  a  pilot of well-known industrialist G. D. Birla's  private aircraft and was  stationed in Delhi. After a short  stint with Mr. Birla, she joined the  joined Indian Airlines as a pilot  in 1953, the National Domestic Airline came into operation  with the amalgamation of many private airlines. On 2nd October 1953, Capt. Prem Mathur started flying as Co-pilot with Indian Airlines and India became the first country in the world to employ a woman as a pilot in their IATA Airline Ltd. Till retirement she had a distinguished carrier with the Indian Airlines. 
As a courageous woman, she chased her dream and accomplished her passion.

Tit Bits:

.. Aban Pesthonjae Chenoy , who flew at the Hyderabad State Aero Club, Begumpet,  was the first Hyderabadi woman pilot and also the first British Indian woman pilot-licence holder (1938).

.. In 1929 Sylla Petit, sister of J.R.D. Tata, was the first lady pilot, so was her younger sister
Rodabeh Tata.

Ref:
http://sgopujkar.tripod.com/id3.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prem_Mathur

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/highfliers-with-nerves-of-steel/article1221462.ece