Captain Zoya Agarwal’s Air India All-woman pilot team team scripts history by flying over world’s longest air route

In a historic move, Air India’s longest direct route flight with the all-women pilot team landed at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru from San Francisco (SFO), flying over the North Pole and covering a distance of about 16,000 kilometers.

“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, told ANI.

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The longest flight over the North Pole is another feather in Captain Zoya’s cap as she was the youngest woman pilot to fly a Boeing-777 in 2013. “I am the youngest woman commander in the world on Boeing 777. Women should have self-belief even if they face societal pressure not consider any task impossible,” she had said.

he became the first woman commander of Air India to command flight over the North Pole. Though Air India pilots have flown over the polar route earlier also, it is for the first time a team of women pilots flew over the North Pole.

Captain Aggarwal was joined by Captain Papagari Thanmai, Captain Akansha Sonaware, and Captain Shivani Manhas in the cockpit.

 Flight AI176, which departed from San Francisco at 8:30 pm (local time) on Saturday, landed at Bengaluru Airport at 3:45 am (local time) on Monday.
Shivani Manhas, one of the four pilots who operated Air India’s inaugural San Francisco-Bengaluru flight said, “It was an exciting experience since it was never done before. It took almost 17 hours to reach here.”

Before the flight Union, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri reacted over the history in making and had said, “Air India’s woman power flies high around the world, our Nari Shakti achieves a historic first.”

It was the first direct non-stop flight between the west coast of the United States and southern India.

“Imagine this: All Women Cockpit Crew. Longest flight into India. Crossing the North Pole. It’s here & happening! Records were broken. History in the making by AI176 from San Francisco to Bengaluru. AI 176 is cruising at 30000 feet,” Air India tweeted.

AI Captain Zoya Agarwal, before the flight took off, had said that her team is very eagerly waiting to create history on January 9.  “Most people in the world will not see the North Pole or even its map in their lifetime. I feel truly feel privileged and humbled by the trust posed in me by the civil aviation ministry and our flag carrier. It is a golden opportunity to command a Boeing 777 inaugural SFO-BLR, one of the world`s longest flight over the North Pole,” she had told ANI.

“I am extremely proud to have with me an experienced women team comprising Captains Thanmai Papagari, Akanksha Sonawane, and Shivani Manhas. This is the first time an all-women pilot’s team will fly over the North Pole and create a history of sorts. It’s indeed a dream come true for any professional pilot,” she added.

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