In Science and Space: On Friday, the San Francisco Aviation Museum offered a spot in its halls to Captain Zoya Agarwal by recognizing her achievement for all Indian women pilots and celebrating her extraordinary aviation career. Captain Agarwal’s induction into the US-based museum makes her the first and the only pilot to earn a place.
And in April 2004, when Air India was the only Indian carrier flying international routes and the country’s aviation industry was much smaller than it is today, Agarwal cleared the entrance exams and earned one of the 10 spots for new pilots at Air India. She then became one of the youngest women pilots to fly the Boeing 777 in 2013, and is still a senior Air India pilot today.
Despite the disapproval, young Agarwal still worked to pursue her dream as she went through two full-time studies for three years after high school. From 06:00 to 15:00, she would focus on her course at St Stephen’s College and proceed to dedicate the later half of the day until 21:30 to aviation classes. Eventually, Agarwal’s parents were won over by her hard work and determination as she continued to excel in her studies.
Throughout her nearly two-decade-long career, Captain Agarwal had some legendary experiences. In 2015, one of her passengers on a flight bound to New York was experiencing breathlessness. Sensing that the passenger’s life was in danger, Captain Agarwal decided to turn back the flight and land at Indira Gandhi International Airport, where the affected passenger was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.