At 30-years-old, Anny Divya has become the youngest woman in the world to command a Boeing 777 aircraft. Divya holds her position with Air India, “the culmination of a childhood dream of flying the skies,” CNN reports.
“I always wanted to become a pilot, from my childhood,” Anny told CNN Travel. “I didn’t have anybody around who knew about piloting at that time. I had no guidance … I just wanted to fly.”
When she was 17-years-old, Divya saw an advertisement for flying school, applied, and was selected. She began to realize that she was on a different level than her classmates, however, when she saw that everyone either had flying experience or family in the aviation industry.
For Anny, everything was completely new.
“I had no clue about any aircraft, technology, nothing,” she recalled. “I’d never had any flying background or anybody to guide me, the whole subject was very new to me.”
Divya is from Vijayawada, a small city in southern India. When she arrived for training in Uttar Pradesh, the most populated state in India, the level of change was a big shock. Cultural and language barriers didn’t help either. She admits that it was difficult adjusting at first.
“We all have some success stories and failures—but we have to focus on what we need and to keep learning,” Divya said. “I wanted to become a pilot, that’s what I wanted to do. So even though I was not doing OK initially, I was very determined to just do it.”
The young commander says she was fortunate to have such a supportive family, whose encouragement kept her going. “My parents have been very supportive,” she said. “Even though there were financial issues—paying for flying was a lot of money for my parents at the time. It’s only with their support that I could do it.”
At just 19-years-old, Divya finished flight school and began working for Air India. She now realizes that the process of her training fostered much of her individual growth.
“By the time I got my job I had learned a lot in life,” she noted. “I went to Spain [to train] and I’ve been doing big international flights for 10 years now.”
Divya still encounters a lot of surprise from others when they realize that she is a pilot at her age. “When I go on flights, people keep asking ‘Are you a commander?'” she said. “They’re like, ‘But she’s such a young girl to be flying such a big plane!’”
Her aircraft can definitely be described as a “big plane,” considering that Divya flies Boeing 777s, which are wide-body jet airliners.
Anny loves her job, and enjoys every aspect of wearing her uniform. The adventurous nature of travel keeps her excited daily. She notes, though, that the pursuit of aviation can be difficult, and that it takes perseverance.
“I want guys, girls, everybody to achieve their dream and if you want to become a pilot you need to have a passion for this,” she stated. “Because the sector is such that sometimes the jobs are there, sometimes there are no jobs—you really need to have that passion. You have to have patience.”
Divya is very happy to have inspired others with her success, but remains humble about her career.
“A lot of people work hard,” she said. “It’s also opportunities you get, I think I’ve been placed in the right time and right place. I really wanted to do it, but also the timing was correct—and my airline gave me this opportunity.”
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