Google doodle honours Sarla Thukral, first Indian woman to fly an aircraft

Published on Aug 08, 2021 08:40 AM IST

Sarla Thukral’s soaring achievements have paved the way for generations of Indian women to turn their dreams of flight into reality, Google said in a statement.

Google doodle celebrates Sarla Thukral on her 107th birth anniversary(File Photo)
Google doodle celebrates Sarla Thukral on her 107th birth anniversary(File Photo)
By, New Delhi

Sarla Thukral, the first Indian woman to ever fly an aircraft, was honoured by Google on August 8, her 107th birth anniversary, with a unique doodle that showcased the extraordinary achievement. The doodle was illustrated by artist Vrinda Zaveri. Thukral left such a lasting legacy for women in aviation that Google decided to run the doodle this year in honour of her 107th birthday," the company said while explaining the doodle art for today.

Sarla Thukral was born in Delhi, British India, on August 8, 1914, later moving to Lahore in present-day Pakistan. Inspired by her husband, who was an airmail pilot from a family of fliers, she began training to follow in their footsteps.

"At age 21, dressed in a traditional sari, she stepped into the cockpit of a small double-winged plane for her first solo flight," Google elaborated while showcasing the doodle. "Lifting the craft into the sky, she made history in the process."

Soon, newspapers spread the word around -- the skies were no longer exclusive to men.

Thukral’s ascent, which has been described as 'groundbreaking', did not stop with her first achievement. As a student of the Lahore Flying Club, she completed 1,000 hours of flight time to gain her A licence, another first for Indian women.

Later that year, Thukral began preparations to become a commercial pilot; however, the outbreak of World War II put a halt on civil aviation training. She later took up fine arts and painting at Lahore’s Mayo School of Arts (now known as the National College of Arts).

Sarla Thukral returned to her native place in Delhi years later, where she continued her painting, also moving on to build a successful career designing jewellery and clothing.

In the decades since, Thukral’s soaring achievements "have paved the way for generations of Indian women to turn their dreams of flight into reality," said Google while elaborating on today's doodle.

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