In n recent years, women have been making waves in the highly male-dominated profession that is aviation. Just last year, Kate McWilliams of EasyJet made news for being the world’s youngest commercial airline captain. Today, the spotlight is on 30-year old Air India Captain Anne Divya, who became the world’s youngest female to command a Boeing 777 aircraft.
Getting to the left-hand seat of the flight deck didn’t come easy for Anne. In a society where career stereotypes still exist, Anne’s childhood dream of being a pilot was often laughed at by schoolmates. While relatives and family friends were also unsupportive of her career choice, it was her parents’ progressive thinking that led 17-year old Anne to enroll in Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA), a flight school in Uttar Pradesh.
In school, the Vijaywada native was often mocked for her poor grasp of English. Her family also faced financial issues and had to take a loan for her education. Undeterred, the teenager persevered and eventually secured a job with national carrier Air India upon graduation. The then 19-year old was sent to Spain for commercial pilot training, and returned to fly the Boeing 737. At 21, she started flying the company’s flagship Boeing 777 aircraft after another training stint in London.
Anne’s achievement is remarkable, but may seem even more impressive when you consider the following statistic: Of the 140,000 airline pilots worldwide, just under 6,500 of them are females — an average just over 5% globally — and only 450 of them are captains. We hope this story inspires many more female aviators to take to the skies and experience the joy of flying.