Sarla Thakral first flew a two-seater plane named Gypsy Moth in Lahore in the year 1936. It is said about her that she took the first solo flight wearing a sari in keeping with the Indian tradition.
Today we are going to tell you the story of that Indian woman, who became India’s first female pilot at the age of just 21. This story is of Sarla Thakral. In the British Raj, Sarla Thakral obtained a pilot’s license at the age of 21, despite being the mother of a four-year-old daughter.
Who was Sarla Thakral?
Sarla Thakral was born on 8 August 1914 in Delhi. At the age of 16, she was married to pilot PD Sharma. Sarla was affectionately called Mati by the people. Shortly after the wedding, PD Sharma noticed that his wife Mati had a great curiosity to know about flying and planes.
Then PD Sharma decided to give wings to this interest of Mati. However, Sarla needed good training for this. With the support and encouragement of her husband PD Sharma, Sarla took training at the Jodhpur Flying Club. During training, for the first time, he flew a two-seater aircraft named Gypsy Moth, in Lahore in 1936. It is said about her that she took her first solo flight wearing a sari, in keeping with the Indian tradition.
After that flight, Sarla had said, “When I flew the plane for the first time, not only my husband but also my father-in-law was happy and excited. He enrolled me in the flying club. I knew that I was engaged in this work of men, despite being a woman. But I admire the men who supported and encouraged me.”
Sarla’s life changed after World War II
Sarla’s husband PD Sharma was an airmail pilot. He was the first licensee of Airmail. He had flown from Karachi to Lahore in the initial days with the help of this license. There were a total of nine people in Sarla’s in-laws and all had experience of flying ships. Sarla too was now waiting for the airmail license. To get this license, he completed a thousand hours of flying and then he got the license too.
In 1939, when preparations for World War II were going on in the world, then this period was very challenging for Sarla Thakral. Due to two incidents that happened this year, Sarla’s life changed completely. In the same year, Sarla’s husband PD Sharma died in a plane crash.
Dreamed of becoming a pilot, but firmly started the second innings of life
Sarla’s troubles did not end here. Sarla had to leave her training midway due to the outbreak of World War II. Sarla was preparing to become a commercial pilot during that time. But even in these adverse circumstances, Sarla Thakral did not give up. He completed his studies in Fine Arts and Painting from Mayo School of Arts (now National College of Arts), Lahore. After studying fine arts and painting, she moved to Delhi. Coming to Delhi, he started his new career with painting and designing.
After independence in 1947, when Sarla came to Delhi, she established herself as an entrepreneur. In the year 1948, she married RP Thakral. Sarla also had a daughter from the second marriage.
Sarla Thakral passed away on 15 March 2008 at the age of 91. Sarla Thakral’s achievements are an inspiration to Indian women. He proved how to turn his dreams into reality.
Editing – G N Jha
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