Captain Aarohi Pandit, a 23-year-old pilot from Mumbai, became the world’s first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean solo in a Light Sports Aircraft (LSA).
She achieved the feat around midnight on Monday when she landed her tiny aircraft at Iqaluit Airport in Canada, after a 3,000-km flight under extreme weather following a take-off from Wick, Scotland, with brief stopovers in Greenland and Iceland.
An Indian commercial pilot licence and LSA licence holder, Aarohi is flying around the world for the WE! Women Empower Expedition, the world’s first all-woman team circumnavigation of the planet in an LSA. The aircraft, called Mahi, is a tiny single-engine Sinus 912 plane weighing less than a Bullet bike, manufactured by Pipistrel Slovenia, and is the first LSA registered by India’s DGCA.
Aarohi set course for the expedition with her fellow pilot and best friend Keithair Misquitta on July 30 last year.
They flew Mahi across Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat in India and then to Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, France and UK.
Since the tiny cockpit is equipped with a life raft, oxygen system and other safety equipment for the Atlantic crossing and beyond, Aarohi is now flying solo.
“I’m so honoured and grateful that I could do this for my country and for women everywhere, “ she said.
“Flying over the Atlantic Ocean is a humbling experience. It’s just you and your little plane, with the light blue sky above and the dark blue sea or shining white ice below. Certain parts were bumpy but the beauty of the ocean and the islands is breathtaking. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!” says Capt. Aarohi.
She is an ardent fan of the legendary Amelia Earhart, the world’s first woman to do a transatlantic flight in an aeroplane.
The WE! Expedition will continue westward to fly back home to India via Canada and Russia. But before that, there are many more longitudes to cross and records to make.