Unknown Facts

Sarla Thukral – First Indian Woman To Fly An Aircraft

Sarla Thukral is the woman who inspires us even today by the achievement she made flying an aircraft a few decades ago. She earned the aviation pilot license in 1936 when she was at the age of 21 itself.

Besides her achievements she also suffered a lot in her personal life as she got married in early life and became a widow at an early age because her husband died and again she got remarried.

She was born on 8th August 1914 when the First World War started. She lived in Ajmer, North India. In those days, education for girls was so difficult but even she continued her studies till 9th grade in a Government school.

Her husband Prabhudatt Sharma was then undergoing flight training in Delhi. He was part of the first group to graduate from the Delhi Flying Club and was the first airmail pilot to carry postal mail between Delhi and Karachi.

Her father-in-law inspired her to get trained in flying aircraft and got enrolled at Northern India Flying Club for training. Initially, it was tough but with Instructor Timmy Dastur’s guidance, she could able to successfully complete her training and started flying solo.

The interesting fact is Sharma had been the first Indian to obtain his airmail pilot license, flying between Karachi and Lahore, his wife would be the first woman in India to obtain her “A” license when she had accumulated more than 1000 hours flying.

The fuel was becoming so low she landed immediately on the land, the professional landing she made was appreciated by her husband and mentor. But the tragedy begins here…

where her husband and his brother both were flying on different routes but still both met with an accident on the same day and same time. Both died and it was hard for Sarla to face, she was just in her ’20s with her 2 daughters.

She, later on, wanted to become a commercial pilot, but for some reason, civil flights were suspended. Then she learned painting and worked as a personal pilot in Alwar, Rajasthan after 6 months she settled in Delhi she used to stitch clothes, learned to design Jewellery, and also completed her bachelor’s in the meantime. Doing all these was not enough for her to meet the expenses but still, she managed all.

She got remarried in 1948 to R. P. Thukral who proposed things were going fine but in 1971 he also died. From then on she continues what she was passionate about, she became a successful businesswoman and gave many jobs to people, her painting passion continued, and began designing clothes and costume jewelry as well. She died in 2008 but yet her work and passion inspire us even today.

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