Meeting Jasmine Chawla at a coffee shop at 5:30 pm, it is a little difficult to take in that just an hour back, she was in the air. She was co-pilot for an early morning flight to Cochin, from where they returned with another plane-load of passengers to Delhi.
After that, Jasmine ensured the plane was handed over to the engineers, changed out of her uniform, got out of Indira Gandhi International Airport and drove down to South Extension from the airport for this interview.
Jasmine always knew she wanted to be a pilot. “My dad was working for Air India as a security manager, posted in the US and then Canada, so we travelled a lot. He has really been the motivating factor. Even when I started talking about a career in aviation, he’s the one who took the first step, found out where I could get my pilot’s training and pushed me ahead,” she says. “My mother is an accountant, she’s been with me through every up and down phase.”
Jasmine studied at the Cambridge Foundation School, Rajouri Garden and after class 12, she directly joined the Madhya Pradesh Flying Club to learn flying. She has also completed her graduation through a correspondence course from Delhi University.
On one such trip Jasmine went and chatted up an air hostess (her parents thought she had gone to the bathroom) and told her that she “would really, really love to see the cockpit, please.” As per rules passengers are not usually granted entry into a cockpit, but the crew were moved by the young girl’s enthusiasm and eventually Jasmine had her wish. “After that I was completely hooked,” she admits.
Although she wanted to fly, Jasmine decided to acquire some additional knowledge of the industry when she signed on for a diploma course in travel and tourism with the IATA. The course focussed on ticketing.
Ask her if there was something in her childhood which indicated that she would one day grow up to be a pilot and Jasmine Chawla lets fly: “I didn’t play with toy planes as a child. I did not make paper planes any more than the average child who grows up to be a policeman, an engineer, or a chef. I did not spend my entire time in art class drawing planes. But I never, ever considered any other career.”