The first Indian woman to fly an aircraft was Sarla Thukral. She was born on 8th August, 1914. She was only 21 when she earned her aviation pilot license in 1936. After earning aviation pilot license, she worked hard and completed 1000 hours of flying owned by Lahore Flying Club. She married at the age of 16 to P.D. Sharma. Her husband came from a family which had nine pilots. He encouraged her to pursue her flying dream. She was also the first woman to receive ‘A’ license. Her husband was the first Indian to get airmail pilot’s license. She flew between Lahore and Karachi. He constantly supported, including her father-in-law who enrolled her in flying club She had a four-year-old daughter and in spite of that she went on to become an incredible pilot. When she completed her required 1000 flying hours and even more; her instructor made her fly solo.
One of the interesting facts of Sarla Thukral is that she flew aircrafts in a saree. She entered the cockpit of a Gypsy Moth in a saree in aviation that was mainly dominated by men. She made history by becoming India’s first pilot. She was working to get ‘B’ license to get authorization to fly a commercial flight. But unfortunately, World War 11 had started and training was suspended. She had gone through immense pain of losing a husband at the age of 24. In 1939, her husband passed away in a plane crash in Jodhpur, after which she decided to give up on her dream of becoming a commercial pilot. After giving up, she had to stay strong and work for a livelihood as she had daughters to raise. She returned to Lahore and started attending Mayo School of Art. She trained in Bengal school of painting, where she earned diploma in fine arts. She succeeded in painting as well and established as an incredible painter. She
She was devoted follower of Arya Samaj. In this community, Vedas were spiritually followed. This Samaj allowed remarriage. She moved back to Delhi with her two daughters. She met R.P. Thukral and married him in 1948. She created her own life by becoming a successful entrepreneur. She made jewelries and designed sarees. She even made paintings and designed costume jewelry for National School of Drama. Vijaya Laxmi Pandit was one of her clients. Her jewelries were not only worn by great figures, but was supplied to Cottage Emporium for 15 years. After that, she started creating designs for the drama school. She once said in an interview that she plans out her day as soon as she wakes up in the morning. She feels happy to work rather than wasting a precious day. She believes that you should be happy and cheerful. This mantra has helped her through various crisis in life. She died on 15th March, 2008.
She was an inspiring woman to all those who once dreamt of flying above the clouds. She embraced her ethnicity and achieved what most feared to achieve during that time. Today, Google honors her pilots on her birth anniversary for the courage and determination she showed that paved a way for future women pilots.