Features Tuesday, April 07, 2015 - 05:30
Nitin B | The News Minute | March 6, 2015 | 12:10 pm IST "Ever since the ninth standard I always collected newspaper articles about aviation and pour over pictures of different aircrafts for hours" says Fatima, from Hyderabad. Fatima is no ordinary 26 year old though. She is Captain Syeda Salva Fatima, one of the few Muslim women in India to hold a commercial pilot’s licence.  Despite being in a predominantly male profession, Fatima is quite an achiever as she also has a private pilot’s licence and flight radio telephone operator licence which are prerequisites for the commercial licence. "It was a different stream and it caught my attention. It wasn't about being a doctor or an engineer like everyone else. I wanted to do something different" she adds. Fatima comes from the old city area of Hyderabad. She tells The News Minute that she never imagined that she would get this far. Her father, Syed Ashfaq Ahmed, a bakery worker, who struggled to make ends meet was also proud of his daughter's ambition and has backed her at every step.  "Zahid Ali Khan sir, the Editor of Siasat daily, really helped me out," says Fatima."I met him at a ceremony where I welcomed him and he heard my story. He then offered to support me financially to undertake the pilot training which is why I'm grateful to him."  This meet was followed by five years of rigorous training at the Andhra Pradesh Aviation Academy, where Fatima obtained her three licenses and logged in a total of 200 flying hours on Cessna 152 and 172 (used primarily for flight training and personal use) including 123 hours of solo flying.  Today, she needs to undergo an additional training so that she can fly every plane including commercial aircraft giants like Airbus and Boeing models. However, there is a downside. "The training costs about Rs. 30 to 32 lakh which is quite a lot." But the determined captain doesn't want to give up, having come this far and recently sent a letter to the Civil Aviation Minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju. "I'm looking forward to a response and lets hope for the best," Fatima says. (All photos provided by Fatima) Editor's Note - The earlier headline that suggested that Fatima was the first woman to achieve this feat. A little further research revealed that Fatima was one of the first. Fatima obtained her license on March 11, 2013 but Saarah Sabah Hameed from Bangalore was already flying by then. However, this does not undermine the fact that she needs help. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute