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From San Francisco to Bengaluru, over the North Pole: Four women pilots of Air India create history

Air India pilots Captain Zoya Aggarwal, Captain Papagari Thanmei, Captain Akansha Sonaware, and Captain Shivani Manhas flew over 16,000 kilometres from San-Francisco to Bengaluru over the North Pole, taking the Atlantic route, becoming the first women in the world to do so.

Capt Zoya Aggarwal, Capt Papagari Thanmei, Capt Akansha Sonaware, and Capt Shivani Manhas are the four names every Indian should know. An all-woman cockpit crew flew on January 9 from San Francisco to Bengaluru. The longest commercial flight in the world to be operated by Air India was the inaugural flight, and it traveled 16,000 KM to reach its destination. It went over the North Pole and took the Atlantic route to reach the capital city of Karnataka.

In its statement, Air India said, “This will be the longest commercial flight in the world to be operated by Air India or any other airline in India…The total flight time on this route will be of more than 17 hours depending on the wind speed on that particular day.” Air India further added that the direct distance between the two cities at the opposite end of the world is 13,993 KM. The time zone change is of 13.5 hours approx.

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri tweeted on January 9 mentioning the team members’ names and said, “Air India’s woman power flies high around the world.”

On their arrival to the Bengaluru Airport, the minister said that the flight was historic and special. He said, “The historic all-woman cockpit crew polar flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru makes Vande Bharat Mission even more special.”

Captain Zoya Aggarwal commanded the flight. In its statement, Air India said that Captain Aggarwal is an accomplished pilot with a flight experience of over 8000 hours. She has command experience in a B-777 aircraft of more than 10 years and more than 2500 flying hours.

‘We created world history’ – Captain Aggarwal

Captain Zoya Aggarwal while talking to ANI, said, “Today, we created world history by not only flying over the North Pole but also by having all women pilots who successfully did it. We are extremely happy and proud to be part of it. This route has saved 10 tonnes of fuel.”

Captain Shivani Manhas called it an exciting experience. She said, “It was an exciting experience since it was never done before. It took almost 17 hours to reach here.”

Netizens congratulated the team

Several netizens have expressed their happiness on the accomplishment of the all-women team of Air India’s longest route inaugural flight.

The flight was almost fully booked

The flight was operated with a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft VT ALG with a seating capacity of 238 seats. 225 seats were booked on the flight. The flight was in the pipeline for a long time. This will be the first direct non-stop flight between southern India and the west coast of the United States. A significant population of Indians lives in San Francisco, and a direct flight will cater to their long-pending demand.

It will be a biweekly flight and will take off from San Francisco for Bengaluru on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It will leave for San Francisco from Bengaluru on Mondays and Thursdays.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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