Discover how a farmer’s daughter from Surat climbed the ranks.
By Ashima Sethi
Recently, news broke that a 19-year old girl from Surat, Gujarat named Maitri Patel had made history as one of India’s youngest commercial pilots. Even more impressive than this accolade was her journey to the top, as the young talent came from humble beginnings before embarking on an 18-month pilot training programme in the United States, which she completed in an impressive 11 months only.
Speaking to India Today, Maitri explained that she was eight years old when she first saw an airplane. An experience that triggered her interest and desire to become a pilot. Maitri’s father, Kantilal Patel, works as a farmer while her mother works for the Surat Municipal Corporation’s Health Department. As they did not have enough funds to cover Maitri’s private school education, her parents decided to sell a portion of their ancestral land to cover the costs of sending their daughter off to pilot training in the U.S.
With aspirations to fly Boeing planes in the future, it seems like Maitri’s dreams are well within reach. Her parents have said to the media that they are “delighted she has realised her ambition at such a young age” and that they are “overjoyed” with her accomplishments. In a celebration of her landmark achievement, former Chief Minister of Gujarat, Vijay Ramniklal Rupani, visited Maitri and her family to offer his congraulations. In a tweet documenting the meetup, the caption read:
“CM Shri Vijay Rupani today met 19-year-old Maitri Patel, a farmer’s daughter from Olpad, Surat, and congratulated her on becoming the youngest female commercial pilot after receiving vocational training in the United States, and also wished this pride of Gujarat a sky-touching career.”