A Farmer’s Daughter, Maitri Patel Soars High Into The Sky As India’s Youngest Commercial Pilot

Written by Niharika Nayak

As little kids, pretty much all of us had an unhealthy obsession with flying airplanes. Be it the excitement you got when you saw the plane flying across the sky or whether you wanted to fly one; planes have always been a fascination. Who wouldn’t want to be able to fly, right? But very few of us truly decide to take on the efforts to study and pursue the field. Maitri Patel, however, is not one of those people. The 19-year-old Surat-born woman is now the youngest commercial pilot in India. Maitri completed her course in a record-breaking eleven months! But this young woman had to overcome a lot more problems on her path to becoming a pilot. Maitri is the child of a farmer and a Surat health department worker. Her parents put everything they had into their daughter’s education. And for a country where female literacy is 15% less than men’s literacy, this truly is a remarkable feat! So let’s look at Maitri’s life story and find out how and why she decided to fly:

Dreaming Big

Dreaming Big

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Maitri always had big dreams. Maitri dreamed of being a pilot after she saw her first airplane at the young age of 8. Maitri wanted to fly a plane badly and made history in 2021 after becoming the youngest Indian commercial pilot in a field dominated by men. The young girl decided she would love to make her dreams of being a pilot to the next level after she finished her 12th grade from the Metas Adventist School in Surat.

Her father enrolled her in an English medium school because he wanted her to get a top-quality education. Despite having fewer resources, her parents did everything they could to see their daughter flourish and do well. Maitri’s father, a man, named Kantilal Patel, works as a farmer in an area called Olpad, while her mother works as a part of the health department of Surat’s Municipal Corporation. Her father used to take people from their city to Mumbai airport, and he got to see many planes during their take-off and landing. Of course, fulfilling this dream was no easy task for Maitri’s father. When he saw that his daughter had a fascination for flying and had visions of a being pilot, he did everything he possibly could to help her achieve that dream. Her father even sold off a plot of ancestral land in order to pay for her to attend her flight training courses abroad.

A Farmer's Daughter, Maitri Patel Soars High Into The Sky As India's Youngest Commercial Pilot

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Maitri had to pursue training in the United States to fly a commercial plane for around 18 months before she was allowed to fly. However, the remarkable young girl managed to finish off her training in just 11 months! It is not an easy feat to complete the training to become a pilot in such a short period, and Maitri was one of the few who managed to pull it off. But we imagine, with such determination and dreams of being a pilot, the task was an easy feat for Maitri to pull off! Maitri still has some big plans ahead of her and has spoken about them to various news dailies. Maitri has said that she would like to pilot a Boeing aircraft and become a captain. She will soon begin training to fly the plane. Maitri spoke about how she invited her father to visit the United States and took him on a ride in an airplane. Thus fulfilling, Kantilal’s dreams of seeing his courageous daughter soar high into the sky.

A Wonderful Homecoming

A Wonderful Homecoming

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Maitri came back to India and received a grand and warm welcome from the rest of her family and parents. While she may have a commercial pilot license from the United States, Maitri will have to get a license in India as well and follow the different travel rules of our country. But we know that Maitri is fully capable of doing this in record time as she did in the US! Maitri even got to meet Gujarat’s Chief Minister with her parents! CM Vijay Ramnikal Rupani invited the remarkable young lady and her parents to his office and congratulated her for her incredible feat! She even got a picture with the CM and her parents in his office. The CM shared the news on Twitter and extended his heartiest congratulations. He also referred to her as the “pride of Gujarat” and wished that she would have a “sky-touching career”.

It’s wonderful to see women pursuing all of their dreams and aspirations and soaring high into the sky in whichever field they choose to pursue. We hope that Maitri’s tale, like Kalpana Chawla’s and so many Indian women before her, inspires young Indian women to follow their dreams and achieve everything that their heart desires! Do let us know all of your thoughts on this article in the comment section below!

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Niharika has a passion for all things art, music and travel. During her spare time she likes experimenting in the kitchen, painting pop culture icons and chasing after random street cats. Her dream is to one day own an amusement park so she can ride roller coasters for free.