Determined in realizing her goal of flying aeroplanes, Ayesha Aziz, a teenager from Baramulla is all set to become a commercial pilot. Umer Beigh meets the girl who has the potential of becoming Sunita Williams of Kashmir
Every aspiring pilot longs for the moment when he or she gets the chance to fly an aircraft for the first time. Ayesha Aziz, a 17-year-old girl hailing from Khawaja Bagh in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district was lucky enough to achieve this feat at a very young age.
“It is a dream come true,” she says.
Ayesha became the youngest Kashmiri girl to be awarded the student pilot license by premier Bombay Flying Club.
From school days she dreamt of flying an aeroplane, “As a child, I used to think whether one day I will be able to do that or not,” she says.
Ayesha besides being a member of Indian Women Pilots’ Association also has the Flight Radio Telephone Operator’s License (FRTOL) to her name.
“It was in November 2011. I cleared the exam for Student Pilot License. Then in another examination, I obtained the Flight Radio Telephone Operator’s License,” she informs.
Now aiming for commercial pilot license Ayesha is striving hard to clear the commercial pilot license (CPL) examination. “I am working hard to crack it. This year hopefully I will be 18 years old as well that will clear all the criteria needed to earn that license,” she says.
As a child, she would love to see aeroplanes in the sky. “I was always inclined towards aviation. I am glad that I am a pilot now. My dream is gradually turning into a reality,” she says.
Bombay Flying Club, where she studies is the oldest flying club in India. It is considered as a premier aviation institute approved by Director General of Civil Aviation (Government of India).
At an age of 14, Ayesha set out to realize her dream of becoming a pilot, she says, “I was in 8th standard.” It was then she began pursuing her goal of joining that school.
She thinks after getting her commercial pilot license, she will opt for higher education in Aviation and Aeronautics engineering.
Ayesha says Sunita Williams has remained her inspiration for all these years, “I always used to think if she had the ability to do such thing why can’t other girls. It is from her achievements as a woman, that I got inspired.” She adds, “I developed a mindset that no defeat is final until you stop thinking.”
During her days in Mumbai Flying Club, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) visited her school to select meritorious students for the space training programme.
She says that she was fortunate that she was in the list of toppers when they (NASA) took students for such a prestigious program. “Three students were selected then and I was one among them,” she says.
Ayesha completed two months of advanced training in NASA. “It was a wonderful experience there in the US. Most of the activities in Space Academy Huntsville in Space Shuttle Mission, multi-axis training, micro-gravity, manned manoeuvring unit, Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) and Area 51 activities were exciting and unforgettable,” she says.
Many activities in NASA were actually made for the students who are aspiring astronauts, “Best part of the experience was when astronauts at NASA shared their experiences with us,” she says.
Ayesha feels very satisfied with her parents who supported her all along the way. “They provided me with a very conducive atmosphere to pursue my dream of becoming a pilot,” she says.
Of his earlier experiences as a pilot, she operated a C-172R aircraft for almost ten hours. “That experience was exciting, I could never believe that I could fly even before I could drive, considering my early age,” she says.
Ayesha has done her schooling from Mumbai and presently resides there along with her parents. She says, “first I studied in St. Agnes High School and later in Christ Church School ISC.”
She opines that no doubt aviation is mostly dominated by men. “But for a girl who wants to pursue her career in the aviation sector. It is not impossible. Girls like me made it possible only when my instincts went for it,” she says.