Mumbai Girl First in the World to Cross Atlantic Ocean in Light Sports AircraftMay 15, 2019 09:57
(Image source from: Facebook/aarohi.pandit)
Captain Aarohi Pandit, a 23-year-old pilot from Mumbai, has successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean solo in a Light Sports Aircraft (LSA) becoming the world’s first woman to cross the second largest of the world’s oceans all alone.
She achieved the feat around midnight Monday-Tuesday (May 13-14) when she landed her tiny aircraft at Iqaluit Airport in Canada, after a strenuous 3,000 km long flight, under adverse weather conditions following take-off from Wick, Scotland, with brief stopovers in Greenland and Iceland.
“This is part of her ongoing year-long global circumnavigation flight which was launched wither friend Keithair Misquitta on July 30. Aarohi continued solo from the UK to Canada, and they will return to India by July 30, 2019,” said Lynn de Souza, head of Social Access, a not-for-profit communications firm which organized and sponsored the expedition.
“En route, she set another world record as the first woman pilot to fly solo above the treacherous Greenland ice-cap in an LSA, and is due for at least half a dozen other records by the time she reaches India,” Lynn told IANS.
A commercial pilot and LSA license holder, Pandit and her best friend Keithair Misquitta left India on the Women Empower (WE) Expedition in the tiny aircraft named ‘Mahi’, the first LSA certified by Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) India.
Manufactured by Pipistrel of Slovenia, ‘Mahi’ is a tiny, single-engine Sinus 912 weighing a little of 400 kg or virtually equivalent to a Bullet motorcycle.
Pandit and Misquitta flew over Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and then to Pakistan, where they landed - making it the first civilian LSA flight to land in the neighboring country since 1947 - and went onto Iran, Turkey, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
(Image source from: The Better India)
After landing in Iqaluit, Pandit with pride exhibited the Indian Tricolour presented to her by the Indian Ambassador to Canada Vikas Swarup, said Lynn. “I am so honored and grateful I could do this for my country and for women everywhere… Flying over the Atlantic Ocean is a humbling experience.
“It’s just you and your little plane, the light blue sky above and dark blue sea or shining white ice below,” said a worn out yet cheerful Pandit in her landing remarks to her cheering friends in Mumbai.
(Image source from: India Today)
Though she admitted certain sectors in the long flight were bumpy, the “beauty of the ocean and islands was breathtaking and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
A resident of Borivali, northwest Mumbai suburb, Pandit is an ardent fan of the legendary American aviator, Amelia Earheart, who became the world’s first woman to make a solo transatlantic flight in a bigger aircraft, 87 years ago, on May 20, 1932.
Pandit went through an arduous seven-month preparatory training schedule in India, Siberia, Greenland, Italy over oceans, high altitude, snow, extreme weather conditions, different terrains testing her physical and mental capabilities to undertake her circumnavigation feat.
After a brief sojourn in Canada, the WE Expedition will go along with Pandit flying westwards to Russia, cross many longitudes and stumbling blocks, create or break more records, before she finally returns home by July 30, after clocking in around 37,000 km.
By Sowmya Sangam