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Thursday, April 28, 2011

First Indian Woman Commercial Pilot

Prem Mathur becomes the first Indian women commercial pilot of the Deccan Airways.She obtained her commercial pilot's licence in 1947.

Hyderabad: Nawabi in outlook and laidback in style. That’s what Hyderabad has come to represent. But it is this princely city that gave aviation a flying start in the country. And it is also the first city to give the fair sex a break in the glamorous world of commercial piloting.Put the clock back by half a century. 

There were not many male pilots in India. And women flying aircrafts was simply unthinkable.But Capt. Prem Mathur was determined to break fresh ground.She had obtained flying licence from Allahabad Flying Club and wanted to become a commercial pilot. 

However, her application was turned down by the eight private airlines – none would like to have a woman pilot.It was then that she turned to Deccan Airways of Hyderabad. Her joy knew no bounds when she was called for interview. 

She was quizzed on various aspects of aviation and she came out with flying colours. Air navigation, operation of sophisticated electronic and mechanical control – her knowledge was impeccable. Then came the bombshell. How would she adjust during night halts especially when two pilots were allotted a room? “You will not regret hiring me,” she told P.M. Reddy, MD, Deccan Airways.

Capt. Mathur was hired and taken in as co-pilot. After logging required hours of flying, she wanted to be given the ‘command’.Reddy was in a dilemma but without mincing words he told her how the travelling public was not prepared yet to accept a woman in the cockpit. 

“If they know the pilot is a woman they will run away,” he told her.A disappointed Mathur went to Delhi and became pilot of industrialist, G.D. Birla’s, private aircraft.Later, she joined Indian Airlines and died in 2005.

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