Fascinated by the sight of an aircraft since her childhood, Neha Fida Wani decided to pursue a career in the aviation industry. And at just 20, she has added wings to her dreams by bagging her commercial pilot's license.
She is only the second girl from Kashmir after Ayesha Aziz who has achieved this feat at such a young age. Ayesha had become the youngest student pilot in India in 2011 at the age of 16 years.
Neha, who hails from K.P Road area, did her schooling from south Kashmir's Anantnag district, and later moved to Chandigarh for higher studies. "After finishing 12th class in September 2018, I joined Chimes Aviation Academy in Madhya Pradesh," Neha told Greater Kashmir.
She said the thing that fascinated her to become a pilot was the thought of flying an airplane. "I was clueless about this profession and would always spend hours surfing the Internet to know how to pursue this career. I have been fascinated by the pilots too," said Neha.
Neha said she remembers flying the Cessna 172 aircraft for the first time in her life after getting a commercial license. "I was absolutely thrilled when I flew the aircraft for the first time. The whole journey through attaining my commercial pilot's license (CPL) was surreal. I flew in all kinds of weather situations," she said.
"I completed 200 hours of flying training, of which 185 hours were on Cessna 172 and 15 hours on DA42 aircraft. As a child I used to think whether one day I will be able to do that or not. I am glad that I am a pilot now. My dream is gradually becoming a reality," she said, beaming with pride.
Revealing her future plans, Neha said that she wants to work with Indigo airlines. "It's my dream," she said.
Neha has been very lucky as she has enjoyed the support of her family in pursuing her dream. "They (parents) have always been very supportive both financially and emotionally throughout the journey," she said.
Her father, Fida Wani, who owns a business, said that they kept supporting Neha despite many people talking bad about them. "Sometimes it was getting very difficult for us but we never backed down. It did hurt us but it didn't demotivate us. We are all very proud of her," he said.
Neha said that everybody has a potential to do something out of the box, especially young Kashmiri youth. "All we need to do is to know our goals and work hard to achieve them," she said.