The all woman crew at the cockpit (from left): Commanders Thanmai Papagari and Zoya Agarwal with first officers Akansha Sonawane and Shivani Manhas. (PTI)
The all woman crew at the cockpit (from left): Commanders Thanmai Papagari and Zoya Agarwal with first officers Akansha Sonawane and Shivani Manhas. (PTI)

'Need to destigmatize women's roles': Air India pilot Shivani Manhas on International Women's Day

  • Captain Manhas, a first officer of Air India, was part of the longest direct route flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru which flew over the North Pole with the all-women pilot team, covering a distance of about 16,000 kilometres.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Mallika Soni, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2021 03:03 PM IST

Shivani Manhas, one of the four pilots who flew Air India's first flight over the North Pole in January, said on Monday people need to rethink and destigmatize the roles that women play. “Only when we liberate men of the stigma that they can't be caretakers, can women be liberated. As a society, we need to destigmatize women's roles,” Manhas said on International Women’s Day.

Captain Manhas, a first officer of Air India, was part of the longest direct route flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru which flew over the North Pole with the all-women pilot team, covering a distance of about 16,000 kilometres. Besides Captain Manhas other pilots of the crew were Captain Zoya Aggarwal, Captain Papagari Thanmai and Captain Akansha Sonaware. The inaugural flight AI176 departed from San Francisco in the USA at 8.30pm on January 9 and landed at the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru at 3.45am on January 11.

The crew was lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “What can be more exciting than that for a citizen. It was an exciting experience since it was never done before. It took almost 17 hours to reach here," Manhas added.

When asked about whether she or any of her team members in the flight ever mulled over having at least one male member in the flight, Manhas said that such a thought never came in her or in her team members’ mind. “On Women’s Day, I used to be part of a women crew flight and I always enjoy these flights. I have no fear as my training from Air India and MP Flying School was very good,” she said.

Manhas comes from the village of Akalpur on the outskirts of Jammu. She completed her Class 12 from Delhi Public School and then began her aviation training in Madhya Pradesh Flying Club of Indore. She started working with Air India in 2016.

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