Ajit JohnEvery girl has a dream. Some want that fabulous doll house and then admission in that prestigious design school and later perhaps a great assignment that would showcase her talent. Others may have more plebeian aspirations like a decent job in a company that will allow them time to live their life as well as fulfill their professional aspirations. And then there are young ladies like Richa Govekar who wish to fly among the stars. She is that seagull, Jonathan Livingstone talked about.Richa from Sankhali looked up at the shining stars and wondered what it would be like to be among them. This was when she was in the fourth standard. By the time she was in the eight standard she learned about the possibilities of the aviation industry. She said she was very interested at looking at the earth from different angles and was also keen on meeting people from different parts of the world and understanding their culture. And yes, she also liked the fact it was all so very adventurous.Coming from a family that had a shop that retailed books and newspapers until a few years back, it would be a challenge financing this dream of Richa. She said when she broached the idea of achieving her dream of being a pilot; her father was silent for a few minutes and then turned to her smiled and said he would ensure his angel would fly among the stars.She managed to score the necessary marks in Maths, Physics and English and gain admission. It usually takes the good ones around a couple of years to pass the exams and with the virus playing its part she was able to complete her training in three years. She lost eight months due to the delays caused by the virus. She went to Chennai to appear for the exams and then Indore for the training. Richa said it depended on the candidate, if he or she cleared the papers they could move up faster. Candidates had to clear 7 papers during the course of the training. Once that was done, she shifted to Baramati to train and later Indore for the test. Recollecting her first time in an aircraft she said “Initially I was nervous but that feeling went away. My bond with the aircraft increased and I began to feel comfortable and loved the feeling. He kept checking if I was fit to fly the aircraft”. Flying at night is an altogether different experience. She said her first experience at night was just fantastic. She said her views on the night changed. Everything she said was shining and looked so different. The earth she said looked so different and importantly her views on flying at night changed completely. The radar she said was all important. And as time passed her connection with the aircraft grew stronger. She trained in a Cessna 172 and the later in a four seater multi engine.Speaking about the taking off and landing procedure, she said one had to be very responsible while taking off and while landing it was important to point the nose on the line because if it was slightly off, the aircraft could go off the runway. It could mean great damage, importantly even death to passengers and possibly the pilot losing his license. She is waiting for a document which is given by the authorities in Delhi and then the license which will come in a couple of months. Once that is in hand she will be able to commence the task of being interviewed by airlines looking to hire. She has so far completed 200 hours of flying and will fly many more miles before she sleeps. Training to be a pilot does not come cheap. She has so far spend around Rs 30 lakhs and expects to spend another Rs 20-25 lakhs. She is the eldest sibling in the family and has a sister in the 12th standard and a brother in the fifth standard. She has stuck to it with great determination and is now planning to take ground classes which are basic training for all those papers she cleared. She intends to start ground classes in Goa for aspiring aviators.
Richa is not the first female pilot from Goa; there are a couple of others. What is very interesting is that India may not be the easiest place for a woman but it has 12.4% of all female pilots in the world. The highest ever. Richa is just another example of the gumption shown by women in this country to move ahead. Cheers to that.