Flying is what she is made for!
GUWAHATI: For this boyish girl, now a septuagenarian, flying is divine – defining her role as a human. It’s all about Ms Dhira Chaliha Hazarika, Assam’s first woman pilot.
For Ms Hazarika, her home state is her winter home now. She flies to Assam during the winter to stay here till May and flies back to her summer home, London where she put down roots with her late husband. Ms Hazarika talks exclusively to The Sentinel, about her life. In April, 1961, Dhira Chaliha Hazarika was awarded her flying wings, making her Assam’s first woman pilot at the age of 21.
When asked as to who inspired her to become a pilot, she said, “Since my childhood my father has always been my great source of inspiration. There is nothing that a man can do and a woman cannot, he told me. I love climbing trees and games which are played more by boys.”
Sharing her first flight feelings she said, “Our training started at the Gauhati airport at Borjhar. The flight officer from Delhi taught us every emergency in the sky to forced landings. We had to complete a total of 17 hours of flying which I could because of the unstinted support from my family and friends. My first solo flight from Borjhar to Tezpur in 1961 was an exhilarating experience. Initially I was a bit apprehensive as there was no radio contact with the airport. I was only enjoying. In spite of a forced landing, the passengers were safe and sound.”
Speaking more about her flying life she said, “After my stint as a trainee pilot, I worked very hard for my commercial pilot licence. I got married to Kamal Hazarika later with whom I sailed to London when I was about to receive my commercial licence. But I never regret anything in life. There are, however, moments when I feel that if had become a commercial pilot I could have travelled to so many places and met so many people.”
Ms Hazarika shared more, “After my marriage I settled in London with my husband. I went to flying club with my husband in a mekhla chador. I thought they would just ask me to fill up the forms that day and not let me fly. Well, when we both reached the flying club, the officer asked my husband to come along to try out the aircraft. My husband had to make them clear that it was me, his wife, who had come to fly. The officer was surprised to see someone wanting to fly in a sari.”
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