CHARMINAR – An Indian Muslim has become the first female Muslim pilot in Uttar Pradesh, giving wings to dreams of young girls.
“I found that there was no Muslim woman pilot in the city and secretly dreamed to become one,” Salwa Fatima, 28, told Times of India, as her father Syed Ashfaque Ahmed and mother Syed Siraj Fatima look on.
While many girls are ambitious to become doctors, Fatima had her sights set on flying higher as a pilot, realizing that there were only three women working as pilots in India.
Trained first at Andhra Pradesh Aviation Academy, she completed a course in Multi-Engine Rating (MER), necessary to become a commercial pilot, this September from New Zealand.
A few more months of training and she will join an airline to fly passenger planes.
Her dream came true when she first met Siasat chief editor Khan, who was a guest at a program conducted by Fatima.
Impressed with the girl’s fluency in English, Khan asked what she wanted to become.
“When uncle (Zahid Ali Khan) heard that I dreamed to become a pilot, he told me to meet him,” she said.
Next, Khan decided to con-tribute to funds required for her education. He even approached some friends.
“It was a revelation for me. A Muslim girl from the Old City ,which is often described as backward, wanted to be a pilot. I had to support her,” said Khan.
“Currently two Muslim girls from the area are studying in IIT (Indian Institute of Technology). The girls are doing much better than boys academically in some cases,” he added.
Fatima’s family was also an important asset in her success.
“I am fortunate to have the backing of my parents, husband and in-laws,” Fatima, who is married to a management graduate, said.
Fatima already has big plans for her 18-month-old daughter. “I want her to become an IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer,” she said.