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.
#FlyAI : Welcome Home— Air India (@airindiain) January 10, 2021
Capt Zoya Agarwal, Capt Papagiri Thanmei, Capt Akanksha & Capt Shivani after completing a landmark journey with touchdown @BLRAirport.
Kudos for making Air India proud.
We also congratulate passengers of AI176 for being part of this historic moment. pic.twitter.com/UFUjvvG01h
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.”
Air India’s woman power flies high around the world.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 9, 2021
All women cockpit crew consisting of Capt Zoya Aggarwal, Capt Papagari Thanmai, Capt Akansha Sonaware & Capt Shivani Manhas will operate the historic inaugural flight between Bengaluru & San Francisco.@airindiain @MoCA_GoI pic.twitter.com/HKT6IYo2Dw
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.”
The historic all woman cockpit crew polar flight from San Francisco to Bengaluru makes Vande Bharat Mission even more special.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 10, 2021
The mission has so far facilitated international travel of more than 46.5 lakh people.
We continue to reach out to more with 24 air bubbles. pic.twitter.com/4WOt2eLbvp
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.”
It was an exciting experience since it was never done before. It took almost 17 hours to reach here: Shivani Manhas, one of the four pilots who operated Air India’s inaugural San Francisco-Bengaluru flight pic.twitter.com/4L8mMFchbX— ANI (@ANI) January 11, 2021
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.
Women flying 🇮🇳 flag high !@airindiain starts its first non-stop service between San Francisco & Bengaluru : the longest flight by an Indian airline; operated by cockpit crew of Captain Zoya Aggarwal, Captain Papagari Thanmai, Captain Akansha Sonaware and Captain Shivani Manhas https://t.co/ZJ7cnMDHv6— Barkha Tamrakar (@BarkhaTamrakar) January 10, 2021
All women cockpit crew takes off from San Francisco to Bengaluru on @airindiain‘s flight to fly over North Pole. Flying over North Pole is one of the most difficult on earth. Captain Zoya Aggarwal became 1st women captain to do so. 17hrs flight is one of the longest. #GirlsPower pic.twitter.com/YCiQmyRWcL— Himalayan Girl (@ChaoNmh) January 11, 2021
Congrats to all women Air India cockpit crew under Capt Zoya Aggarwal for flying the maiden flight S’Frsncisco – B’luru . Here is more to women power in India @airindiain— Shantanu Mukharji (@Shantanu2818) January 10, 2021
An all-women cockpit crew of #AirIndia has taken off the inaugural flight between #SanFrancisco & Bengaluru! Led by commanding officer Captain Zoya Agarwal, the @airindiain women pilots are set to script history by flying over #NorthPole on world’s longest air route of 16,000 km. pic.twitter.com/gkF4rlo3Kl— P C Mohan (@PCMohanMP) January 10, 2021
It is a proud and a historic moment for India as an all women cockpit crew of @airindiain has taken off on the inaugural flight between Bangalore and San Francisco. This flight is set to fly over the #NorthPole making it the longest ever route to India. pic.twitter.com/VjqsrMm6yO— B Sriramulu (@sriramulubjp) January 10, 2021
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.