Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sarla Thakral (1914–15 March 2009)

Sarla Thakral was the first Indian woman to fly an aircraft. Born in 1914, she earned an aviation pilot license in 1936 at the age of 21 and flew a Gypsy Moth solo. She had a four-year-old daughter. After obtaining the initial licence, she persevered on and completed one thousand hours of flying in the aircraft owned by the Lahore Flying Club. Her husband P. D. Sharma whom she married at 16 and comes from a family which had 9 pilots encouraged her to achieve it. She was the first Indian to get airmail pilot’s licence and flew between Karachi and Lahore.

While she was working towards the commercial pilot license in 1939, World War II broke out and civil training was suspended. Later her husband died in a crash. She abandoned her plans to become a commercial pilot, returned to Lahore and joined the Mayo School of Art where she trained in the Bengal school of painting and obtained a diploma in fine arts. She was also a dedicated follower of the Arya Samaj.

After the Partition she moved to Delhi with her two daughters where she met her second husband P. P. Thakral and married him in 1948. Sarla, also known as Mati, became a successful businesswoman, painter and began designing clothes and costume jewellery.

 She died in 2009.

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