Photo: India Times
As we see a woman taking up the post of India’s defence minister, let’s reminiscence about the woman who gave us wings!
This article is an ode to Sarla Thakral, who had the courage to become the first woman pilot at a young age of 21! Her wings were indeed mighty!
Sarla Thakral born, 15th March 1914, was the first woman to fly an aircraft in India. At the age of 21 she earned herself an aviation pilot license and flew Gypsy Moth solo. Sarla had a four year old daughter. She completed the 1000 hours of flying in the aircraft owned by Lahore Flying club after obtaining the initial license.
This feat achieved by her was something that set a benchmark in women’s rights.
Sarla Thakral got the passion of flying an aircraft from her Husband P.D. Sharma whom she married at the age of 16, Sharma’s family had 9 pilots and since then Sarla was inspired to fly a plane. Sharma was the first Indian to get his airmail pilot’s license, flying between Karachi and Lahore.
Sarla’s husband captain Sharma died in a airplane crash in 1939. The young Sarla tried applying to train for her commercial pilot license but unfortunately the World War 2 had begun and the civil training was suspended. She had a child to raise, so she dropped the plan of becoming a commercial pilot because she had to earn her livelihood.
She returned to Lahore attending the Mayo School of Arts where she trained at the Bengal school of painting, obtaining a diploma in fine arts.
Thakral was a religious follower of Arya Samaj, within this community remarriage was an open option of Thakral.
After the India Pakistan partition she moved to Delhi with her two daughters, where she met her second husband R.P. Thakral. She married him in 1948. Sarla Thakral alias Mati, went on to became a successful businesswoman, painter and began designing clothes and costume jewellery.
Sarla Thakral died in the year of 2008 leaving us with a memory that we cannot forget. Thank you for your contribution Sarla Thakral. It is because of you that we know what it means to have wings!