First and only woman pilot from Telangana

First and only woman pilot from Telangana

First and only woman pilot from Telangana. She defied all odds and stereotypes, broke the barriers of conventional thoughts to nurture her childhood...

She defied all odds and stereotypes, broke the barriers of conventional thoughts to nurture her childhood dream of becoming a pilot.

City-based, GANTA SWATHI RAO, who works as a commercial pilot and flying instructor at Air Works, Philippines, had the honour of being the first and only woman pilot from Telangana. In an interview with ADITYA PARANKUSAM, she spoke about her passion and more.

A lot of effort from oneself and support from all corners have to be garnered if one is nurturing a dream of becoming something unconventional. Swathi Rao faced a similar predicament and has battled her way to achieve a high flying dream of becoming a pilot.

“It was my dream from childhood to become a pilot. My father was my inspiration. He had got a job as a navy pilot but couldn’t take up due to his family commitments and later joined the police department. He always wanted his children to become pilots and I am happy that I was the one who made his dream come true,” said a proud Swathi Rao.

Swathi Rao had initially trained at AP Aviation in city for about six months. Later, in 2006 she moved to Philippines and completed her training at Air Works Flying School. She is now a commercial pilot and a flying instructor at the same academy.

Swathi says that her family has supported in her pursuit of the dream. “My father and mother gave me un-conditional support. They have stood against conservative relatives, who were against, my decision to become a pilot. One of my aunts also encouraged me a lot.”

She admits that being a pilot is a challenging job. “Flying is a challenging task. One has to expect the unexpected and be prepared. One has to be very alert and peaceful in the cockpit. Physical and mental fitness are the key here. I rely on yoga and meditation to prepare myself.”

However, she bemoans that current education and loan systems aren’t very supportive. “When, I had applied for a loan to purse the flying course in Philippines, the bank officer asked me, ‘are they allowing women to fly a plane’? ‘I am not sure that our rules have provisions to sanction loans for a pilot training course,’ was his comment. I had to visit the bank’s main branch in the city, go through all the statutes, rules and provisions to check whether I was eligible for a loan. I had to visit all banks and moved heaven and earth to get the loan sanctioned.”

The pilot, who has completed more than 2,000 hours of flying, is eagerly waiting to settle in her home town. “Post training, I was based in Philippines. Every year I make attempts to come home and get settled and get a job with one of the local airlines but I leave disappointed. Most airlines in India opt for foreign based pilots, local pilots do hardly get employed. Lack of vacancies too is a reason.”

Swathi Rao says that parental support is the key for women to make their career choice. “There are many alternative careers and if one chooses such careers, it’s imperative that the parents have to support them.”

When asked about how it feels like to be the first and only woman pilot from Telangana, she quipped: “It’s a proud feeling. But, I would be more happy if more women from this newly formed state take up piloting as a career,” she signs off.

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