Mumbai woman sets record with solo flights across Atlantic, Pacific

indica News Bureau-


A 23-year-old Mumbai resident made history Wednesday becoming the first woman to pilot solo across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in a Light Sports Aircraft, according to an IANS report.

Aarohi Pandit, on a global flight in a small plane, flew from Alaska’s Unalakleet city across the Pacific Ocean’s Bering Sea and landed safely at the Anadyr Airport in Russia’s Far East region of Chukotka early Wednesday morning after a stopover in Nome, Alaska, the report said. After landing, Pandit, posed for photos with her LSA and waved the Indian tricolor.

“Aarohi truly represents all that young Indian women are capable of, given an opportunity,” Lynn de Souza, founder of Social Access Communications, which organized the WE! Expedition, told IANS. “We are very proud and she has set such a great example for all other girls to emulate.”

In mid-May this year, Pandit became the first woman in the world to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo in a LSA, IANS reported. In the past nearly 13 months of her circumnavigation flight, she has broken and created several records, including becoming the world’s first woman to complete a solo flight over the treacherous Greenland ice-cap in an LSA and the first woman to fly across Canada from the northeast to the northwest via the south, said her team in Mumbai.

A resident of Borivali in northwest Mumbai suburb, Pandit considers the Pacific Ocean crossing as the most significant sector for the Women Empower Expedition (WE!) circumnavigation, marking its entry into a new country, a new continent and a new day, IANS reported.

In her nearly 700-mile flight from Unalakleet to Anadyr, Pandit flew across the International Date Line, also known as the Line of Confusion, when the date changes and all instruments conk off for a few minutes, according to IANS. For the main and challenging leg of the crossing, Pandit took off from Nome at 2 p.m. Tuesday and after a 3-hour, 50-minute flight landed at Anadyr on Wednesday.

“I lost one day of my life which I will never get back.” she said jokingly said after her landing at Anadyr, adding that she would always treasure the experience. “The Pacific Ocean flight was more beautiful than the Atlantic Ocean crossing, and it was also one of my most enjoyable. I feel honored to achieve these records for India and women all over.”

An Indian commercial pilot license and LSA license holder, Pandit launched the world’s first all-woman team to circumnavigate the globe in her LSA, named “Mahi,” on July 30, 2018, along with her friend and pilot Keithair Misquitta.

“Mahi” is a tiny single engine Sinus 912 aircraft manufactured by Slovenia’s Pipistrel and is the first LSA registered with the Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) India.

Initially, Pandit and Misquitta flew together across India’s Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, France and Britain.

Since the tiny cockpit had to be equipped with a life raft, oxygen system and other safety gadgets for the trans-oceanic flights from Britain onwards, Pandit undertook the remaining expedition solo.

Pandit underwent an arduous seven-month preparatory training schedule in India, Greenland, Siberia, and Italy over oceans, high altitude, snow, extreme weather conditions, different terrains testing her physical and mental capabilities to undertake her circumnavigation feat, IANS reported. She also had to cope up with various physical and mental exercises to help her take on the toughest terrains and weather conditions while being all alone in the cockpit.

Pandit is an ardent fan of the legendary American aviator Amelia Earhart — who became the world’s first woman to make a solo transatlantic flight in a bigger aircraft, 87 years ago, on May 20, 1932.

To date, Pandit has logged in 18,000 miles in 50 legs across three continents and 20 countries in her small LSA.


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