NEW DELHI: January 10 marked the one-year anniversary of the momentous feat achieved by Captain Zoya Aggrawal, when she flew the inaugural flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru last year, taking on the Atlantic Route. She did this by leading an all-women crew alongside her and earned the nickname— Polar Girl.
In fact, the past year has been a momentous one for this young pilot, who has been on a roll ever since she became the fifth woman pilot to fly for Air India in 2004 and the youngest in the world to fly Boeing-777.
On December 16, 2021, Agarwal along with R Someshwar, Sandeep Mukhedkar, and Abhay Agarwal added another feather to her cap by flying Air India’s first B777 over the Hindu Kush route, while taking the Toronto to Delhi territory.
Earlier, she was chosen by the United Nations as its Spokesperson for Generation Equality. On International Youth Day, the UN also featured India and Air India to spread awareness amongst the youth. This was a big moment for the nation as the UN had featured for the first time a pilot from Air India on its global platform. This was the first time ever that UN women have kicked off world youth day with India.
In an exclusive interview with The New Indian team, Zoya shared her experience after the longest flight and said: “I remember walking outside with my team after landing the flight successfully and people started clapping… and they were crying, there were those tears behind those face shield and when you see that kind of visuals you won’t forget that and you take them with you to your grave”.
Whilst growing up in a middle-class family, having a dream was something unheard of. At the age of eight, I decided that I wanted to fly, and becoming a pilot was a way of achieving it. To inspire the next generation of young women and girls to never give up on their dreams, Captain Zoya says keep believing in yourself, even if others don’t, and stay focused.
While the world came to a standstill due to the pandemic and there was fear among the people, Capt Zoya flew Vande Bharat flights to bring back Indians from all across the continents. She also discussed Vande Bharat flights’ mission to bring back Indians from different countries during the Covid pandemic and bring back the families. She mentioned that “when we started this mission, that it was mother’s day and I had to stay away from my family and my mom, but my moral compass told me how many children I will reunite with their mother if I agreed to operate the flight”.
Her grit and determination is an inspiration for the youth and those aspiring to conquer the skies. As she shares: “I believe in challenging yourself, and keep on setting goals. Because if you don’t have goals, life is a flatline. And the flatline means that you’re dead”. Definitely, an example to emulate.